Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
December, 2010
Regional Report

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With such a varied selection of holiday plants, choose carefully to provide the proper growing conditions.

Plants for Gift Giving

Those who like to garden are natural born givers. We share cuttings from our houseplants, give perennial divisions to friends and neighbors, donate plants to garden clubs and give plants during the holiday season. If living plants are on your gift list this year, do your homework if the recipient is a novice or non-gardening type you're trying to convert.

Most of the seasonal holiday plants including poinsettias, potted mums, calceolarias, kalanchoes, orchids and others are generally types that do best in bright to moderate light. Find out what the growing conditions are like in the recipient's home to make the proper choices. There are many kinds of foliage plants, however, that tolerate lower light and are not as temperamental as flowering plants.

If space is limited for indoor plants, consider hanging plants. I've seen hanging philodendrons decorated with mini poinsettias to add holiday cheer. Once the poinsettia has outlasted its usefulness, toss it. If the recipient is a seasoned gardener, bonsai is worth considering. Granted bonsai is a more expensive investment, but will be appreciated for many years to come.

Larger plants, for those who have the space, will do nicely too. An indoor tree that naturally looks "Christmassy" is the Norfolk pine. You can decorate it with lightweight ornaments for the season and then enjoy its evergreen qualities the rest of the year. Be warned, Norfolk pines like sunny exposures, cool temperatures, and moderate to high humidity for best growth. I've had one for years that finally reached the ceiling so I gave it a new home.

Garden tools are always welcome as house warming gifts and some of the new gardening gadgets have possibilities. I'm old fashioned, so the basic set of garden trowel, hand cultivator, and dandelion digger are on my shopping list. As always, for the hard-to-shop-for-recipient, gift certificates to a local garden center or nursery, a membership to a botanical garden or museum, or subscription to a home and garden magazine are options.

I like to dabble in feeding the birds, so bird feeding accessories always make welcome gifts for those who do the same. Bird feeders that mount on the window allow viewers to observe the birds up close and personal. Platform bird feeders will attract many seed-eaters. These open tables offer easy access and are readily visible to the birds. Their disadvantages include lack of protection from wind and snow and a greater risk of feeder raids by aggressive birds and squirrels. There are lots of choices, so have fun making a decision.

Gifts for and from a gardener, the ideas are limitless!

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