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You will find copies of handouts and notes shared at monthly garden club meetings here. You may refer to this area for future reference or you may print them for your files.

DECEMBER,2011

TAKING CARE OF THE BIG THREE

Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, Poinsettias

Amaryllis originated in the tropical regions of South America, The botanical name is Hippeastrum. The easy to grow bulbs come in red, white, pink, salmon and orange. To plant the bulb, first soak the base and roots in lukewarm water for a few hours. Plant in potting compost up to the neck of the bulb. Water sparingly until the stem appears. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees. The amaryllis will bloom within 8 weeks after planting.

The Christmas Cactus is a members of the Zygo-cactus family native to Central and South America. Although it is commonly called cactus, it is an epiphyte which grows in areas similar to the orchid family. Since this is a tropical plant, it does require humidity and watering. It is best to water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry. An application of 0-10-10 fertilizer should be applied in November and a second application in February. It is best to repot the plant in February through April. However, the plant will flower best if it is root-bound.

Poinsettias were first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, first Ambassador to Mexico. The plant, which grows wild in Mexico, was named after the Ambassador. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias should be placed near a sunny window with temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Root rot may occur if the temperature is below 60 degrees. This plant requires almost daily watering. If the soil feels dry to the touch, water until  it runs through the holes in the bottom of the pot. If the plant becomes too dry, the leaves will wilt. If this occurs, water and then water again in five minutes. Do not leave the plant sitting in water. Poinsettias make great container plants in the summer. The stems should be cut back in April or May and fertilized every two weeks. During the summer, stems should be pinched back in early July and again between August 15th and September 1st .

How to Make A Pumpkin Flower Vase

Preparation:

Buy a small pumpkin but one that is large enough to hold an arrangement of flowers. A large pumpkin will need a lot of flowers.

Select fall flowers ,seedpods,  greenery, and pretty grasses for your arrangement.

Brush off any dirt or leaves from the pumpkin and wipe the surface of the pumpkin to clean it. Pat the pumpkin dry using a hand towel.

Soak your oasis in a container so that it is saturated with water before you place it inside the pumpkin.

Prepare your workplace. Spread wax paper down across the workplace. Then spread newspapers on top of the wax paper. This protects your work surface by preventing liquid from seeping through.

Instructions:

1.  Using a sharp knife, cut the top off the pumpkin, creating an opening about 5 to 6 inches around. It needs to be large enough to hold a bouquet of flowers.

2. Using a large kitchen spoon, remove all seeds and the stringy ,dangling stuff inside the pumpkin. Set your pumpkin out to dry a bit. It does not need to be completely dry before you continue.(In the meantime, in a container, you can soak your oasis in water)

3. Reaching up about half way up on the inside, line the insides of pumpkin with a layer of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  Although most pumpkins and gourds will be waterproof, this step makes the pumpkin even more impermeable

4. Cut and trim the oasis into a block that fits comfortably into the pumpkin. With the oasis, you have two options. 1. Use the oasis that you have soaked in water. Then fit the oasis into the pumpkin. OR  2. Set the oasis into the pumpkin, and then add enough water to saturate the oasis.

5. Beginning with greenery around the edges, arrange the flowers, and other plant material into the oasis. Use wire picks to give added support to any flowers that need added support.

Sources:

Alicia Bodine, EHow Contributor, How to Make a Pumpkin into a Flower Vase

ArmChairGeek eHow Contributor, How to Make a Vase with a Pumpkin

submitted by Joan Cullen