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Holiday tips for care of fresh-cut trees and poinsettias

Holiday tips for care of fresh-cut trees and poinsettias

(November 22, 2000)

The smell of roast turkey and the chill in the air means that it won't be long before fresh-cut evergreen trees and potted poinsettias take up winter residence in area living rooms. Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have a few pieces of advice.

To avoid unwanted holiday guests, that heavy tree has to be lifted up and banged against the ground several times. The reason for the sudden jolt, said UCR entomologist Tim Paine, is to knock insects and dead needles off the tree. Aphids and ladybugs take shelter from wind and sun inside the tree branches, and they aren't easy to spot. Inside the warm house, however, they will be glad to climb up walls and curtains, bringing their own brand of festive décor. To be really sure of a clean tree, use a garden hose to spray it off before it comes inside, Paine said.

Potted poinsettias, on the other hand, need a more gentle touch, said UCR plant physiologist Eugene A. Nothnagel. They need a protected spot, near bright light from a window. Poinsettias brought into a dim house, or even one lit with fluorescent bulbs, will soon show yellowing leaves and a dropping of the small yellow cyathia, or true flowers, at the center of each cluster of large, red bracts. These hothouse beauties need lots of light, and fluorescent light is no substitute, said Nothnagel. With proper care, he said, poinsettias can last long past the New Year.

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