The week ahead brings us Thanksgiving, and the following week is Advent, the beginning of the Christmas season. The bustle of preparations and celebrations will likely push thoughts of gardening out of mind, but it’s easy to make plants part of the festivities.
Plants are a great decoration for home and office, and thoughtful gifts for the host, hostess or hard-to-buy-for person on your list. Pretty, calorie-free and many of the showiest can be a disposable, short term commitment for the recipient. Select a fresh, healthy plant and it should last through the holiday season with a minimum of attention.
For Thanksgiving, mums, kalanchoes and Gerber daisies are readily available in warm, harvest colors like orange, yellow, red and bronze. Last week I spotted some moth orchids that had been tinted a golden orange, and bronze-orange, glitter-sprayed poinsettias. A single, larger plant in a decorative pot or pot wrap makes an instant and impressive display.
Smaller plants are more versatile. They can be a simple decoration for the desk at work, a splash of color to be added to an existing display of houseplants or knick-knacks, or part of a new holiday creation.
Even though flowering plants need a lot of light, these plants are already in bloom, and will last for weeks regardless of where they are displayed. They are really intended to be a disposable item, so simply discard or compost them when the flowers fade.
For a table centerpiece or display, tropical foliage plants or succulents — or, for that matter, some of your current houseplants — can be the base of a changeable decoration. I am partial to those with colorful foliage, and the options are many. Rather than list my favorites, I’d send you to the greenhouse or florist to browse the options. Small plants in 2- or 3-inch pots are often not labeled with the variety, so you’re really just choosing colors and textures that will look good together.
Rather than transplant the assortment into a single shared pot, I prefer to arrange them in a large basket or broad container with a waterproof liner. Tuck some dried sheet or Spanish moss between the plants to hold them in place and hide the pots.
Cut flowers are another way to add temporary, seasonal color. A small vase or arrangement will work, but I like to use floral picks—small tubes with a rubber cap designed to hold water and a single cut flower stem, easily secured into the soil of a potted plant. I’ve collected and reused mine from arrangements from the florist, but most florists will sell few from their stock — especially with a flower purchase.
After Thanksgiving, change out the autumn-hued flowers and foliage, and replace with your favorite Christmas colors. New mums, kalanchoes and Gerbera daisies can be found to fit the theme, as well as poinsettias, Christmas cactus and cyclamen.
Remember to protect new plant and flower purchases during the trip from store to car and home if it’s below 50 degrees outside, and be mindful of leaving them in the cold vehicle while you make other stops before heading home. Plants should be carefully wrapped in florist paper or an oversized bag stapled at the top — wrapping them in a bubble of warm air when they are taken into the cold.
Once you have the plant home, remove the wrapping promptly. If you plan to take it out again later to take to the office or deliver as a gift, keep the wrapping to use again.
Include plants to add color and life to your holiday celebrations.