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Colour for Christmas

Friday, 21 December 2018

By Deb Delahunty, Wodonga TAFE

Over the Christmas period is when some plants are at their absolute best.  There are a number of plants that do well in pots and they would make a great living Christmas tree or could even be used to decorate a table or a room for the festive day.

The Metrosideros excelsa commonly called the New Zealand Christmas Tree flowers at its best in December with masses of bright red flowers.  This plant grows well in tubs but eventually has to be planted in the ground.  You could always keep a conifer in a pot and use it inside during December, conifers are very traditional for Christmas and there are some beautiful species available.  Like the Metrosideros the conifers would eventually need to be planted outdoors.

Any plants in flower can be used to decorate a room over the festive season.  Photographed is a container bursting at the seams with Petunias, Lobelia and the bright and cheery orange Marigolds.

Mass plantings of Marigolds are always uplifting.  The French Marigolds (Tagetes patula) are small, only growing to about 40cm and they are so easy to grow.  They are popular because they deliver such a burst of colour with little effort.  They are easy to grow from seed and always available as seedlings from our local nurseries.  They can be grown in containers, give them a well-drained soil and give them a sunny position and they do well.  When Christmas (or other special event) draws near the pots of colour can be brought indoors and used as decorations.  As well as being a burst of colour – Marigolds are great at inhibiting root-knot nematodes.  Root-knot nematodes are extremely tiny, plant-parasitic worms.  They are extremely common in soil and have a wide range of hosts.  Tomatoes are a group of plants that are seriously affected by nematodes, so growing tomatoes and Marigolds together makes sense.

 The French Marigolds apparently cause nematode eggs to hatch prematurely causing their death before they have a chance to damage your plants.  So planting French Marigolds amongst other plants in the vegetable garden is extremely beneficial to the overall health of the veggie patch.

If you’re stuck for what to buy for presents – most people are happy with a pot plant as a gift.  Our local nurseries have a wealth of beautiful plants that can be easily gift wrapped. So if it’s a last minute present you need – pop into a nursery! 

The Agriculture/Horticulture Department at Wodonga TAFE would like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Photograph – Plants can be used as table decorations.  This basket of colourful bedding plants – including the Marigolds is a spectacular burst of colour.

 

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