1. Keep the tree stand filled with water. Make this a daily chore for someone trying to stay on Santa's nice list.
If good help is hard to find, purchase or make your own self-watering device.
Use a decorative tin or plastic bucket set in a box and wrapped to hide its presence. Fill it with water and run plastic tubing from the bucket to the tree stand. Weight each end of the tubing, so it stays at the bottom of the reservoir.
Test before leaving town to make sure it is in working order.
2. It's easy to extend the life of your holiday plants. Place them in a cool,` bright location away from drafts of hot or cold air. Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil moist.
Pour off any excess water that collects in the saucer, basket or foil wrap to prevent root rot.
Place pebbles in the base of a saucer or foil to elevate the plants above the excess water. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plants. 3. Use nature-inspired decorations that will last beyond the season: colorful stems, white painted allium seed heads and wooden or tin stars.
Redwood wreaths are timeless enough to leave hanging on your wall year-round.
Luminaries can be used to light the entrance to your home or the path to your outdoor living space during warmer months.
Use roosting pocket birdhouses to decorate trees and greenery and then move them outside for the birds.
4. Spruce up indoor plants with holiday flowers, spangles and lights. Place a few cut flowers in floral picks filled with water.
Or add one of the miniature poinsettias, kalanchoes or cyclamen to a large planter. Simply sink the flowering plant, pot and all, into your houseplant container.
Replace the small flowering plants as they fade or the seasons change.
Add branch lights to your houseplants and planters. They also can light an entrance, bathroom or other out-of-the-way space.
Look for lights with timers to extend the life of the batteries and reduce your workload.
5. A tabletop spruce tree is perfect for any size home and lasts long past the holidays. Once the weather is suitable for planting, move it into the garden. Or give it to a friend or relative looking to expand their landscape.
Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers offers more tips on her website, www.melindamyers.com.
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