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Home for the holidays
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
When you think about holiday decorating, think about your front door. I recently urged readers to consider holiday plantings near the front entrance to a home. Now I want to take everyone up the steps, on the porch and even to the door.
For Thanksgiving, why not make a decorative broom? I peeked in on a seminar that ladies in our office were watching in a distance learning teleconference. I could not believe how easy it was to tie fall leaves, cattails, pinecones and greenery together with a bow and make an artistic accent for the door.
Please consider creating some planters with pansies, perhaps some English ivy to cascade over the rim and add some ornamental grass like the Toffee Twist carex or Ogon Japanese sweet flag to add a little height. Container gardening isn't just for spring and summer, and a container like this will be a welcome sign for Thanksgiving.
Then you can add to or modify the door display for the Christmas holiday season.
Long before the poinsettia became the holiday plant of choice, the cyclamen was on the throne. Today, the cyclamen is overlooked, yet it can offer significant color to the holiday season.
I recently read a letter asking an expert just how much cold a cyclamen could take while in bloom. The professional answered the question in an odd, but telling, way.
He said at 40 to 45 degrees, a cyclamen in flower would be far happier and last much longer than in a room of 60 to 70 degrees. I could not have been happier to see that answer, because it describes most of our nights around Christmas.
That means the pot near the front door where a geranium bloomed all summer now can be filled with cyclamen for the holiday.
So many of us in the South have porches that offer added protection from winds, rains and cold that would tickle pink a cyclamen placed there. Yes, they are available in pink as well as violet and the traditional Christmas colors of red and white.
Why not cluster them in several pots by the front door? Another great idea is to place a small cyclamen in a large wreath. Decorate the wreath with red ribbon, red or gold Christmas ornaments and a few pinecones. Place a living cyclamen on the inside bottom of the wreath.
The cyclamen prefers the humidity outside versus indoors. Keep the cyclamen evenly moist, but never soggy. When watering, use a little can with a spout to place the water around the edge of the container without watering the crown or center of the plant directly.
It's not uncommon for a cyclamen to bloom from the holidays through April. Should bone-chilling temperatures be forecast, set the cyclamen inside until temperatures moderate. This usually happens rather quickly.
You can bet I'll also have poinsettias inside. Happy holidays.