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Now browsing: Hometown News > Gardening > Garden Nook

Holiday plant safety
Rating: 2 / 5 (17 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Dec 21 - 08:54

With the holidays in full swing many of us are going to purchase one or more of the colorful holiday plants that are available.

For the most part, these plants are safe, but some safety precautions should be taken. With some common sense precautions, you can have a safe and happy holiday season.

o Poinsettia.These colorful holiday plants are safe plants to have around your home during the holidays. As with any ornamental, they should be kept out of reach of small children and should never be ingested.

Although not particularly toxic to humans, they can be very toxic to small animals. If you have pets that have a habit of chewing your plants, opt for the artificial variety. They can often look just as spectacular as the real thing and you can reuse them year after year. Over time, this can save you a pile of money.

o Mistletoe. Using mistletoe as a decoration is a tradition that has been carried out for centuries. During Pagan times, troops at war who met in the presence of mistletoe were required to lay down their weapons and unite in a day of truce. Mistletoe was also used during rituals that celebrated the winter solstice. It was used as a symbol of the eventual return of the sun.

In Christianity, mistletoe has been used as symbol of love ever since the Middle Ages. During this era, mistletoe was blessed by a priest and all those who walked under it were kissed as a sign of friendship and all bad feelings were extinguished.

In modern times, the tradition of being kissed under the mistletoe is still in full force. A trip to your local holiday shop will usually yield both live and artificial versions of this popular holiday plant. The "live" mistletoe plant is toxic if ingested and should be kept out of the reach of small children and pets. As long as it is not ingested, this plant can still create a warm feeling of friendship to all who walk under it.

o Live Christmas trees. Although live trees are the main symbol of this great day, they can pose hazards if not handled and cared for properly. The main hazard from live trees is fire. When you first bring your tree home, be sure to cut a slice off the bottom of your tree before placing it in its new location. This will help the tree to absorb water faster, which will greatly lengthen its useful life.

There are many products on the market that are labeled as "tree savers" that are useful in helping the tree absorb water faster and over a longer period of time. It is important when choosing the location for your new tree to place it away from any heat sources or sparks. In the past, using faulty Christmas lights that either shorted out or sparked caused most tree- related fires. In addition, lights that produce too much heat can be a problem on a tree that has been in use for an extended period of time.

Today, one of the best ways to stay safe is to use the new LED lights that are available for decorating. They look great and besides running way cooler then other lights, they also save you green. They use a fraction of the power of conventional lighting methods.

In addition, use only UL approved extension cords and power strips. Using LED lights will not create as much as a load on your extension cords and power adapters.

With the availability of a large selection of artificial trees, for many people this will be a great alternative to a live tree. Most are now in three pieces with all the lights already attached and they last year after year saving you lots of money over time.

As you can see, with some common sense practices, you can stay safe this holiday season.

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send emails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.

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