A Twist on Tradition

Christmas cactus leaving you cheerless? Then follow the advice of Tracy Stier, greenhouse department head at Westlake’s Gale’s Garden Center, and try one of these indoor plants that departs from the traditional, yet still delivers lots of holiday spirit to your décor:

Red and white are the most popular colors during the holidays, with clusters of blooms that can be cut back to bloom again later in your home. Stier often arranges the colorful kalanchoe with houseplants like variegated ivy or angel vine to create a stunning holiday pot or basket.

Small evergreens:
Stier also creates indoor holiday arrangements with dwarf conifer, dwarf Alberta spruce, arborvitae or boxwood. But if you’re planning to transfer the plant outdoors after the holidays, check first to be sure it’s a hardy variety.

This tropical flower produces red and white heart-shaped blooms that also make a striking center to a holiday arrangement.

With straight, tall stems topped with vibrant blooms, cyclamen provides an excellent center to a holiday arrangement. When it stops blooming, Stier suggests simply popping it out and replacing it with another seasonal blooming plant.
Lights Out!
That sense of dread
you’re feeling right now? It’s lighting anxiety, a common condition afflicting homeowners who love the look of outdoor Christmas lights but hate putting them up.

“The tradition’s still going strong, but we get more and more calls to help string up Christmas lights every year,” says Jonas Pattie of Novelty, Ohio landscape design firm The Pattie Group. “If you want a professional look, it’s not easy.”

Pattie’s prescription for lighting anxiety? Skip the strands and try some of these ideas for tangle-free outdoor decorating:

Use spotlighting instead of stringing lights. Temporary colored spotlights are easy to do, look great, “and they don’t take nearly the amount of electricity of regular Christmas lights,” says Pattie. Pattie’s most-requested colors are red and green, followed by blue and yellow.

Hang garland, real stuff preferred. If you’re picking up the fake kind to use year after year, you may be disappointed, says Pattie; most are not designed to take a beating outdoors. Look at your local garden store for spruce or pine garland and hang it on your fence or around your entryway. Jazz it up with big bows and an easy strand of holiday lights. Best yet — it’s neutral enough to stay up until more moderate spring weather.

Put candles in your street-facing windows. Pattie recommends getting the electric kind and putting them on timers for easiest operation.

Wrap up your garage door with the fattest ribbon you can find to make it look like a Christmas present.

Use existing outdoor flowerpots or window boxes to create holiday arrangements with spruce greens and holly branches hung with brightly colored Christmas ball ornaments.

>>Tree Amigos: Consider adding other indoor plants such as hydrangeas, lilies, jasmine and even rosemary to your indoor holiday foliage, or simply modify your existing plants by adding a basket, foil or a holiday pot.
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