The holidays are in full swing and for gardeners like me, it’s time to head indoors for the comfort of family, friends, hot cocoa, and home-cooked meals. And while I long to be in my garden, heading inside doesn’t mean I have to tuck my green thumb in and hide it away. On the contrary. Have you seen the gorgeous Christmas cacti cascading from the shelves of your local garden center? How about the Christmas tree-shaped rosemary plants? And of course, the abundance of poinsettia and chrysanthemum.
Why, come December my home is transformed into a veritable greenhouse! While my children prefer to focus on the Christmas evergreen that sits prominently in our living room, I indulge in the aromatic leaves of the rosemary plant. Did you know that rosemary provides a quick mental boost and decreases anxiety? It’s the perfect reprieve from my hectic holiday pace.
And a great way to distract my kids. Why stop at indulging in the aromatic leaves when you can clip them and create a wonderfully scented gift satchel? Kids love crafts and this one requires little more than a square swatch of fabric, scissors, and a decorative ribbon. Simply remove the leaves from several rosemary branches and place them in the center of the material. Pull the corners up and draw the fabric together, forming a round of leaves. Tie the bag tightly closed with the ribbon so that no leaves can escape. These are perfect for kitchen and bathroom drawers, even your coat pocket! You can oven dry the leaves prior to use by placing them on a cookie sheet and “bake” at 200° for 2-3 hours. Alternatives include lavender, lemon balm and mint.
Once January rolls around, if you live in a warm climate, you can put those poinsettia in the ground and enjoy year-round. For them to thrive, you’ll need a general fertilizer, indirect light, consistent moisture, and protection from freezing temperatures (a fabric cover will suffice). Even Northerners can enjoy them as potted plants indoors. Come October, give them 12-14 hours of darkness and 6-8 hours of bright light for 8-10 weeks. Nighttime temperatures must be between 65-70F and the plant will be blooming like new!
This year, unleash your green thumb and extend your garden into the holidays and beyond.