Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2001
Regional Report

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Rose hips' bright colors enliven any bouquet or holiday decoration.

Live Holiday Decorations

Norfolk Island pines can become mini-Christmas trees, with their own tiny lights and ornaments. Provide each room in the house with its own specially decorated tree. For example, hang cookie cutters with red ribbon bows on the kitchen tree.

Holiday Color

Other living plants for indoor color include African violets, azaleas, begonias, Christmas cactus, Christmas (Jerusalem) cherry, cyclamen, and kalanchoe, as well as the ever-dependable chrysanthemum and poinsettia. Be sure to give these living plants bright, indirect light, keep them cool and out of drafts, and water them just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. Cacti and succulents are also good choices, but they need direct sunlight and very little water.

Decorations from the Garden

The garden is a treasure trove of possibilities for holiday decorations. Strings of pyracantha berries alternated with popcorn make attractive garlands. Oranges, lemons or apples sprinkled with cinnamon or cardamom and stuck with whole cloves are delightfully fragrant pomander balls. Add bright red and orange rose hips to green wreaths. Vines from grapes, honeysuckle, wisteria, willow, or ivy will bend into many usable shapes. Eucalyptus pods, pinecones, acorns, and magnolia leaf clusters provide many shades of brown. Of course there's the traditional holly-- Bufford's Holly grows better here than the traditional variety. And don't forget the mistletoe!


Prune conifers and broad-leafed evergreens to provide trimmings for holiday decorations -- and at the same time shape the plants to lessen chances of wind damage. Branches that hold their shape well indoors include incense cedar, fir, laurel, magnolia, oleander, pine, pittosporum, podocarpus, and viburnum. The red berries from cotoneaster, nandina, and pyracantha always serve as a bright accent.

Herbs, too, can trim Yule logs, flavor jelly, give fragrance to clusters of twigs or wreaths, and perfume the air in stovetop potpourris.

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