Get in the holiday spirit

Published 4:57 pm Saturday, December 8, 2007

This is my first full Christmas here as a resident of Natchez and one thing rings true — the Miss-Lou has holiday spirit!

From the lights of Vidalia to the tree in downtown Natchez on Main Street, the spirit of Christmas and the holidays is everywhere around town.

Isn’t it great to live in a community that has so much pride, joy and traditional celebration? Now that the town is decked out, here is something you can do around the home to help show some holiday spirit.

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Q. What is a good holiday plant for decoration?

I would have to think that poinsettias are always a “can’t go wrong” holiday favorite. But there are some things you can look for that will help your poinsettia last the entire holiday season and a few months afterward or longer.

Bracts are not the flower of the poinsettia but actually the leaves that turn color, traditionally red. When checking the bracts, make sure there are no dark spots or lesions. Make sure the color is all the way to the edge of the bracts without any green cast, and make sure the smaller bracts, closest to the center of the plant, are colorful, too.

Look for strong, stiff stems, good leaf and bract retention, and no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping. Next look in the very center of the plant, and you will see the true flowers called the cyathia.

This tiny cluster of flowers is the best indicator of a poinsettia’s freshness and quality. Desired poinsettias have a tight clustered set of buds in the center. Look for a plant that has good colored bracts and unopened buds preferably.

Carefully inspect packaged poinsettias before purchasing them.

Poinsettias left in sleeves for an extended period of time may become unhealthy.

Remember with any plant they do require watering, but be careful if your plant is in a sleeve and make sure the water can drain out the sleeve and not drown the roots.

Poinsettias are grown in greenhouse with day temperatures of 70 to 72 degrees and night temperatures of about 60 degrees, therefore if you can keep similar conditions it helps. I am not saying turn you air conditioner down to 60 degrees at night but do be careful if you use them outside your home for decorations, temperatures below 40 can permanently damage poinsettias.

Q. What is a good surprise Christmas present for a gardener?

Well you can go with the traditional things like equipment, plants or lawn furniture, but how about the gift of knowledge.

We have officially opened registration for the upcoming Master Gardener class starting Tuesday, Feb. 26 through Thursday, April 3. This could be a great stocking stuffer for someone wanting to learn more about many aspects of horticulture.

Adams County has the most active group of Master Gardeners in the state; this is not my opinion but fact, validated last year by taking home four out of five state awards from the state convention.

Now you have the opportunity to be involved as well, call the Adams County Extension office at 601-445-8201 or e-mail me at for registration information.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension office.