Tips for Christmas Tree Disposal

4231067017 697aebd7bc 300x225 Tips for Christmas Tree Disposal

Christmas Tree Dropoff 3 by sidminor81

Many people dread the day when Christmas is past and we have to take down our tree. Living rooms, shopping malls, and office building foyers are transformed from magical and festive back to their normal pre-holiday state. Many of those trees that are taken down are live pines, spruce or firs.

Where do all those once living trees end up?

According to “RecycleYour ChristmasTree.com”, 93% of live trees nationwide are recycled. The following are a few ideas for what to do with your Christmas tree after the lights and ornaments have come off.

Bird Feeder

Purdue Extension suggests recycling your Christmas tree as a bird feeder. Remove all the ornaments and lights from your tree and place it outside. You can hang edible ornaments from the branches to attract winter birds.  Some things that birds will love are pieces of stale bread rolled in peanut butter and bird seed, strings of popcorn, pinecones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed, cakes made with suet and any other disposable bird feeder that can be found in stores. You will need to make sure the tree is secure so that it will not be knocked over by the wind or other creatures. You can use twine to secure the tree to something fixed in the ground or you can use twine and tent stakes to stake the tree in place. When your tree is dry, at the end of the season, it can be mulched.

Wood Chips or Mulch

Another option is to chip or mulch the tree. Ask around to see if any of your neighbors have a chipper you could borrow. You can use mulch around flower beds and larger wood chips in landscaping or play areas. Some communities also have locations that will chip your tree for you. Other communities have a service that will pick up your tree and chip it using the mulch and wood chips in community spaces such as parks. Pickyourownchristmastree.org Has an updated list by state and city for various community tree recycling programs. You can also call your garbage removal service. Some companies participate in tree recycling programs and will pick up your tree for you.

Erosion Control

Some states have programs that use recycled Christmas trees for erosion control. Recycleyourchristmastree.com points to Louisiana as one of the pioneers of this sort of reuse. They collect used Christmas trees and place them in specialized fences along marshes to prevent the loss of the coastal wetlands. More that 600,000 trees have been used for this purpose.

Container Arrangements

Some tops or branches that have retained their needles well can be used in container arrangements. These arrangements of colorful twigs, dried berries and evergreens can be kept outside throughout the cold season.  To find attractive outdoor containers visit NewPro Containers.

Tips for Next Year

It may be too late for this year, but next year use this tip from pickyourownchristmastree.org. Place a Christmas tree bag underneath your tree and cover it with a tree skirt. When you are ready to remove your tree simply pull the bag up over the tree and take it outside. You can remove the tree stand after the tree is outside. This will save your floors from being covered in needles and significantly cut down on clean-up.

You can also purchase a tree that still has a root ball in tact so that it can be planted outdoors when you are finished. It is important to plan ahead and dig your hole before the ground is too cold and firm. Trees planted in a milder climate have a better success rate.

Your Turn to Share

There are many ways Christmas trees can be repurposed to cut back on waste, reusing a valuable resource. Have you used any of the methods above? Have you done something different with your old Christmas tree?

Photo “Christmas Tree Dropoff 3″ by sidminor81

Helping Your Christmas Cactus Bloom

Christmas Cactus 300x199 Helping Your Christmas Cactus Bloom

“Christmas Cactus” by anna.baba

If your Christmas Cactus is blooming just in time for Christmas you are either very experienced or very lucky. It is rare that the Christmas Cactus puts on its show at just the right time. Often it will bloom early or late.  With the right care and some practiced timing the Christmas Cactus can bloom beautifully for the holidays.

Origins

The Christmas Cactus is a succulent that originates from Brazil. In its natural habitat it grows in the forks of trees and rock outcroppings in Southern Coastal Forests. In the Southern Hemisphere the conditions are right for the Christmas Cactus to bloom in May. That’s why Brazilians refer to it as Flor-de-Maio, Flower of May. It’s flowers come in a variety of colors including pink, purple, peach and cream.

Blooming

The budding and blooming of the Christmas Cactus are determined by light and temperature. Continuous nights of darkness for at least 12 hours are needed for the cactus to bud. According to Purdue Extension, if you start moving your plant somewhere dark (a closet for example) for twelve hours during the night around mid-October it will put on buds in time for the holidays. Alternatively, lower temperatures will induce buds. If you expose your plants to 50-55 degree temperatures starting in November it should be ready to bloom by Christmas.

While Christmas Cacti like dark nights to bud they also like bright light during the day. A sunny location in the house will encourage more blooms. However, do not let the name cactus fool you because they do not endure high temperatures. They can be brought outdoors for the summer, but take care to leave them in a shaded or partially shaded area. If the leaves, which are truly modified stems, begin to turn red you know your plant has been exposed to too much light.

Water

Watering your Christmas Cactus is also vital to its health. Like other cacti it can tolerate drought, but unlike other cacti it doesn’t thrive on it. The Christmas Cactus must be watered regularly, but not over watered. It does not like to be soggy. Check the soil to make sure the top two inches are dry before your add more water.  According to “The Complete Christmas Cactus Guide,” the plant needs less water in the fall and winter and more in the spring and summer. In order to keep water moving through the potting soil use a mix that provides plenty of aeration. Clemson Extension suggests using 60-80% potting soil and 20-40% perlite.

Propagation

The Christmas Cactus doesn’t mind being pot bound and can live in a relatively small container.  It is also easily propagated. Simply pinch off portions of the stem containing three to five segments in May or June. Allow the cut end to form a callous for two days in the open air. Then plant up to three cuttings one inch deep in a four inch container. Clemson Extension then recommends thoroughly watering the pot and placing a plastic bag over the top of the plantings. This will create high humidity that will encourage root growth. The bag can be removed after roots are established in three to eight weeks.

A Christmas Cactus can be a beautiful decoration just for the season or an interesting long-term addition to your collection. As you help your new Christmas Cactus grow and blossom on time you can find the perfect container for it at NewPro Containers.

Have you grown a Christmas Cactus? Do you have any tips for helping it bloom during the holidays?

Photo “Christmas Cactus” courtesy of anna.baba 

Fun Facts about the Poinsettia

poinsettia tree 300x225 Fun Facts about the Poinsettia

“poinsettias in the backyard” by Jan Smith

With Christmas time just around the corner and all of your plans made and holiday plantscapes carefully crafted it is time to relax and enjoy the holiday. Grab a cup of eggnog, relax and enjoy as we celebrate the season’s most popular plant with some fun facts in honor of National Poinsettia Day which happened this week on December 12th.

History

The poinsettia was first introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett. Poinsett was a United States ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s. Botany was also one of his favorite hobbies. He found the plant and brought it home to a greenhouse in South Carolina (University of Illinois Extension.)

Long before being brought to the United States, the Aztecs prized the poinsettia calling it Cuetlaxochitl, which means flower with leather petals (gomexico.about.com.). They used the red bracts to make dye and to reduce fevers. In it’s natural habitat, where temperatures remain between 50 and 70 degrees, the poinsettia can grow to be a large bush over 10 feet tall.

poinsettianursery 300x225 Fun Facts about the Poinsettia

“Poinsettia” by Robert Nunnally

Sales

According to Living Arts Originals, it was Albert Ecke that first sold the poinsettia on street corners. His son improved the plant through grafting so that it was fuller and more beautiful as a potted plant. His grandson marketed the plant sending it to television stations so that it would appear on air during Christmas time. All of their efforts have paid off and the Ecke family still grows 70% of poinsettias purchased in the United States.

With its innovative marketers and natural Christmas red and greens the poinsettia remains the most popular potted Christmas decoration.  According to University of Illinois Extension $220 million dollars worth of poinsettias are sold during the holiday season. Of that $220 million 80% are purchased by women.  Also, you don’t have to stick to just red and green anymore. There are over a hundred different varieties of poinsettias with colors including pink and white. However, keep in mind as you plan your plantscapes 74% of Americans still prefer red poinsettias. 8% prefer white poinsettias and 6% prefer pink.

White Poinsettia 300x225 Fun Facts about the Poinsettia

“White Poinsettia” by Liz West

Long Term Care

Poinsettias are difficult to keep and encourage to bloom again, but if you have the right conditions it is possible. These suggestions come from University of Illinois Extension. Store the plant in a space that stays between 50 and 60 degrees until spring and water just enough to keep the roots from drying. Then in the spring move the plant to a warm room and water regularly. Cut the stems back to about six inches. Provide plenty of sunlight. In the fall the plant should be kept in a space between 60 and 65 degrees. The plant must have 6-8 weeks of long nights in order to flower again.

Planning for Next Year

When you are ready to plan for next year’s poinsettias be sure to browse the holiday selection at NewPro Containers. They have a variety of containers, including hanging, floor and table top containers that accent the festive beauty of the poinsettia.

 Your Turn to Share

What is your favorite holiday plant? Have you ever cared for a poinsettia year round? What difficulties did you encounter?

You may also be interested in these older posts about poinsettias:  Are Poinsettia Poisonous? Sell a Pot with a Poinsettia

Are You Listening?

ears to you by scott robinson 210x300 Are You Listening?

“Ears to You” by Scott Robinson

There are a variety of different ways to market your interior landscaping services. Whether you are a small, one-person business or you have a marketing department it is important evaluate your strategies and see what works best to attract new customers.

One marketing method that is getting a lot of attention lately is social media. Social media includes using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to build a reputation and have your business easily accessible on the Internet. If you want to learn more about social media check out this post. It is important to have your information readily available for people to find, but you can take your Internet marketing a step further and actively engage with these communities.

Listening

The first step in engaging these communities is listening. When you listen on the Internet you can find out how people are talking about interior landscaping. Then you can be more aware of  people’s interests and reach out quickly to potential customers. There are a number of tools on the Internet to help you listen. One easy to use tool is google alerts. You can set the alert to e-mail you when certain search terms appear on the Internet. For example, you could set an alert to e-mail you once a day with links to all of the blogs that contain the key phrase “interior landscaping.” That way you know what people are discussing in regard to interior landscaping. You can post comments that demonstrate your expertise and reach out to assist potential clients who may be looking for help.

Another tool to help you know what people are looking for on the internet is google trends. At google trends you can type in different keyword phrases and you can see how often people search for those terms. This will give you a good idea of what key phrases to use on your website, blog or Facebook. For example, people search for the phrase “indoor plants” more often than “interior landscaping.”  It is important to remember as you are using these keyword phrases to remain genuine. People will catch on when you are excessively using key terms or using them in places where they don’t belong to get search engine traffic. Many potential customers are turned off by websites or blogs that seem unnatural.

Another great way to listen to the online conversation is Twitter search. You can search words or phrases like “indoor plants” or “container gardens” and see what people are talking about. Maybe someone has a question that you can answer or wants to know about potting soil and you can recommend a great article. These interactions will give you credibility and connect you with people who might need your services. There may also be someone looking for what you provide in your location. If you don’t search for these things you may miss an opportunity to introduce yourself to potential clients. For more information about Twitter, Chris Brogan has a great post on how to use Twitter for business .

Start Simple and Evaluate

If you are feeling overwhelmed and barely have time to keep your website updated, let alone participate in social media, just pick one area that would be easy for you to try. For example, google alerts does the work for you and the information is sent right to your e-mail inbox. Once you have tried something for a little while evaluate if it worked. Did you meet potential costumers? Did you build helpful relationships? If not, try a new area or strategy. If you feel like your strategy is working, you may want to add a new area. Your time is important so you need to be aware of whether or not your efforts are paying off.

Your Turn to Share

What efforts have you made to connect with potential customers through social media? How have you tailored your Internet marketing to appeal people needing interior landscaping services?

As you meet potential clients and earn new business, be sure to keep up with all NewPro Containers has to offer for your indoor and outdoor container needs.

Photo “Ears to You” courtesy of Scott Robinson