Holiday cacti are not hard to take care of, if you remember not to overwater them; getting them to bloom on time is a bit more complex.
Here's how to do it:
In order for these plants to form flower buds for holiday blooms, they need extended darkness for at least four weeks.
Place the plant in a dark room or keep it covered (under a box or bag works fine) for at least 12 hours a day.
When buds appear (it usually takes around four weeks), the darkening schedule can stop.
As the buds get larger, move the plant gradually to where it will be displayed for the holiday, avoiding extreme temperature or lighting changes.
Continue to water and feed while the plant is budding and blooming. Water only when the soil is completely dry--these plants do not like soggy roots.
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Nestled as it is between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving sometimes gets lost in the shuffle--and, if you think about it, that really is a shame.
Despite all the bad news we are subjected to daily, we all have so many things to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving gives us a great opportunity to reflect on all of our blessings, even if it's just one day a year!
Like the holiday itself, decorating for the day also sometimes gets overlooked.
With the anticipation of the extensive efforts Christmas decorating requires, it seems tempting to limit our preparations for Thanksgiving to the food (no small feat in itself) and call it a day.
Everyone knows that even a delicious dinner benefits from a little ambiance, and the good news is that Thanksgiving decorating can be fairly simple--in fact, some of the same decorations that were just used for Halloween can be pressed into service for an encore performance on Thanksgiving! With a short trip to the garden center and a walk around your neighborhood or yard, you will have a wealth of materials to create the perfect setting for your Thanksgiving celebration.
Chances are you still have some un-carved pumpkins left over from your Halloween decorating.
Use your pumpkins on your front porch combined with some potted chrysanthemums or ornamental cabbage or kale.
Use pots of different heights and shapes to provide visual interest for an eye-catching display visible from the street.
Now for the front door--decorate a straw- or moss-covered wreath form with your choice of the following items: branches of colorful foliage, fall flowers, Indian corn, berries, tiny pumpkins and/or gourds, miniature pomegranates, apples, pears, oranges, acorns and small pine cones, and finish it off with a bow made of raffia or burlap.
Choose either fresh or faux materials, or use a mixture of both (the more perishable items, such as flowers and some of the fruit should probably be faux, to extend the life of your wreath).
Cut flower arrangements lend a special feeling to the home wherever and whenever they are used.
During the fall, focus on using materials more conducive in color and texture to the season.
Good choices for flowers are calendula, gaillardia, coreopsis, sunflowers, orange roses and orange alstroemeria.
Plants with colorful foliage like ginkgo, maple, Chinese pistache, liquidambar and nandina provide added texture and color.
Add some berry sprays from California holly, nandina or pyracantha along with some ornamental grass plumes and you will have a memorable arrangement.
Seating areas such as couches, chairs and love seats can undergo an inexpensive seasonal makeover by simply changing the throw cushions.
Substitute lighter fabrics for heavier richer ones and change bright or pastel colors to warmer, muted tones.
Add a comfy afghan or throw to create a truly cozy atmosphere.
Last but not least, we need to decorate the holiday table.
Using a faux autumn-themed garland, create a serpentine pattern down the center of the table, lengthwise.
Choose several (an odd number is best) bright red apples or miniature pumpkins.
Hollow out a space (on the stem end) of each apple or pumpkin just large enough to accommodate a votive candle.
Insert one votive candle in each piece of fruit or pumpkin and place them sporadically on either side of garland.
Light the candles and count your blessings!
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