Make cleaning your houseplant foliage part of sprucing up your home for the holidays. Clean leaves look best-- and they capture more light for photosynthesis. Wash both the surface and underside of each leaf with lukewarm water that's had a drop or two of dishwashing liquid added. For more information, see the wide range of houseplant care publications on the University of Minnesota Extension Garden Info site.
Poinsettia's are among the easiest holiday plants to grow. But first you must choose a plant and get it home without suffering cold damage. It must be wrapped well, then transported in a heated vehicle. Cut the bottom of the pot so excess water will drain out, and place the poinsettia in a bright- even sunny- location. water thoroughly when the soil surface begins to dry, and fertilize monthly after four to six weeks.
Want to see more poinsettias? Spend some time at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul's Como Park. The annual holiday display will help you forget December's snow and cold!
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum also has many winter offerings. This month, the Arboretum will be hosting Hot Chocolate Walks, guided walks with a naturalist through the quiet of winter, with a cup of hot chocolate to warm up at the end. Visit the Arboretum website for this and other opportunities to take advantage of the snowy Minnesota landscape.
This month the Yard and Garden News will feature Julie Weisenhorn, Director of the Master Gardener Program and Assistant Extension Professor. We have asked Julie two questions: "What do you like most about your job?" and "What are you passionate about outside of work?"
I have always loved teaching landscaping and plant selection to my Master Gardeners - my three areas of focus! They are the greatest students - full of energy and the desire to learn. They also ask really good questions - they keep me on my toes - and draw excellent conclusions. I love to hear from them how they used the information they learned in my class to help citizens with their gardening questions.
Photography of plants, landscapes and architecture: I love waiting for the right light, the right subject, the right combination of elements and then getting that perfect shot. I love coming upon a unique plant or combination of plants and getting the shot. It's very satisfying to go back over the day's work and say "wow!"
Dogs and landscaping: I love dogs and will always have a dog in my life, my home - and my garden! That means landscaping with the notion that a dog will be a participant and use the landscape as their territory. Keeping expectations realistic when creating spaces, selecting plants and designing for specific needs of the dog are key to having a landscape that is functional, maintainable and looks great.
Music and friends who play music: My personal time is often spent playing music with friends. My husband is a musician and I come from a musical family. I have always loved to sing and am playing better guitar thanks to hanging out and jamming at a local music store on Saturdays. While I don't count on music as a career, I love to perform in groups and play at weddings, benefits, and parties for the pure bliss of the rush you feel when an ordinary song turns out great.