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SPECIAL 4-PAGE SECTION Wednesday, December 4, 2019

H&G 1


Colorful plants help create holiday memories

Photos by Karen Walenga GV News & Sahuarita Sun

A trio of deep red Sandia ristras make a Southwest holiday statement.

Green Valley Gardeners Mary Kidnocker


ecember is the month to think “Poinsettia.” Eighty-five percent of potted holiday plants sold are poinsettias. These Mexican native plants have a botanical name meaning “very beautiful” … certainly descriptive. What is commonly referred to as a flower is actually a set of colorful modified leaves

Green Valley Gardeners’ writer Mary Kidnocker and Native Gardens of Green Valley owner Harry March admire a colorful display


of plants ideal for the holidays.

(bracts) which surround the small berry-like clusters of yellow flowers. When picking a plant, check that there is little or no yellow pollen on the flower clusters. Plants that

shed pollen will soon drop their vibrant bracts. Poinsettias should be wrapped properly for the trip home. Temperatures below 50 degrees for even a few min-

utes can cause damage. When you get your flowering plant home, place it where it will receive indirect light for six hours daily. It is important to keep it out of drafts.

A temperature of 60 to 70 degrees is ideal during daytime; 55 degrees at night. Higher temperatures will shorten


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Among the many eye-catching varieties of poinsettias is this lovely Picasso hybridized plant.


Continued from H&G 1 the plant’s life. Check soil daily and water only when it feels dry. Do not fertilize poinsettias when they are in bloom. For bloom next Christmas, keep your poinsettia completely dark from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m., beginning at the end of Septem-

ber until Dec. 15. An easy way to do this is to place a cardboard box over the plant each evening. Even street lights can prevent flowering. During daytime, give it sunlight. Even with the many choices of hybridized colors, red poinsettias are still the choice of more than 75 percent of Americans, followed by white and then pink. Whether you enjoy the challenge of encourag-

ing your plant to rebloom, or decide to purchase a fresh poinsettia each year, take pleasure in this cheerful seasonal prize. Blooming profusely from September to March, another popular flower is the Mediterranean native Cyclamen. This small plant has heart-shaped, marbled green leaves and delicately scented pastel flowers in colors from red to rosy pink to lavender or pure



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dry. Any surplus water not absorbed within 15 minutes should be poured off. Add one-half strength liquid plant food to the water once weekly during the growing period. Among recommended Cyclamen varieties are: “Scentsation” with red-topink strongly scented flowers; “Victoria” which has ruffled white blooms with red trim; and any of the “Sierra” series with their large 2- to 3-inch colorful

blossoms. Another favorite for the holidays is commonly called Christmas Cactus. Its cascading stems make it a favorite for hanging baskets and plant stands. Hybridizing has created a wide variety of brightly colored blossoms including red, orange, pink, purple and cream. Flattened dark green stems light up with the 3-inch tubular flowers. Christmas Cactus

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white. The petite blooms are held upright above the compact, 8-inch tall plant, resembling colorful butterflies in flight. Cyclamen is a relatively easy plant to maintain when watered carefully and kept on a bright, north-facing windowsill. Temperatures below 68 degrees are preferred. When the soil feels dry, water near the perimeter of the container, being careful to keep the tuber

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H&G 2

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Calling all readers!

This pure white cyclamen has marbled green

leaves and distinctive, delicately scented flowers. It also comes in shades of red to rosy pink to lavender. blooms best when kept in 50 to 60 percent humidity and somewhat pot-bound. It is also important to keep this plant out of drafts and away from heat sources or a door to the outside. Originating in Holland, Amaryllis bulbs can be grown in containers … or guess what, simply encased in decorated wax enclosures to use as a unique holiday centerpiece. Available in many patterns and color combinations, artistic Amaryllis grow quickly from their wax coating, and as if by magic bloom in 4 to 6 weeks.

Here at the monthly Home & Garden section, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on our communities’ distinctive Southern Arizona lifestyles! We’d love to hear from you about your current Home & Garden goals and projects indoors and out. How are you making the most of your indoor and outdoor living spaces this winter? What were the processes and results of your recent home remodeling project? Which home décor trends have you made your own? Whatever your current project is, we’d like to hear about it!

Featuring delicate white flowers, this distinctive Christmas cactus is a favorite for hanging baskets and plant stands. These can primarily be purchased over the internet, by mail order, or from some florists. Holiday plants have long been show-stoppers, whether for gift giving or starting your own distinctive collection. Make any holiday setting extra elegant by selecting your favorite colorful, sweet scented, strikingly beautiful plant companions. The choices keep getting better!

Send an email with your name, contact phone number, and a short description of your latest project to Home and Garden editor and writer Karen Walenga at We look forward to hearing from you!

Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area.


H&G 3

Simple repairs before holiday guests arrive Rosie on the house Rosie Romero


ast month we talked about moving your holiday fun outside. Regardless of where the festivities will take place at your home, there are a few areas you may want to inspect and fix before the guests arrive. Fix Leaky Faucets: Shut off the valves supplying water to the house. Remove the faucet’s handle (not the faucet). The leak usually stems from the on-off handle. If you have two handles, see if the drip is hot or cold and remove only the problem handle. You might have to pop off a button on top to reveal a screw or some pins. Unscrew the screw or remove the pins and a cartridge will come loose. It should have a rubber ring (or washer) inside that is causing the leak. Remove that washer and take it to the hardware store for the right replacement. Install the new washer and


Thoroughly clean the oven and stovetop to prevent

fires from baked on food.

put the handle back on. Turn on the water. If you have trouble with the handle or cartridge, you may need to call a plumber. Stop running toilets: When the toilet is flushed, the flapper opens to let water into the bowl. When it closes, it creates a seal to keep the water in the tank until the next flush. Because the flapper is rubber, it can decompose, warp and harden, all problems that prevent it from sealing properly. That’s why water keeps

running out of the tank into the bowl. Shut off water to the toilet. Pull the flapper valve out of the clips holding it in place, take it to the hardware store and find a matching flapper valve. Replace the valve, making sure it’s sealed tightly. Clip the new valve chain on the trip arm. Turn on the water and test the valve. If the water keeps running, adjust the flapper so the seal is water-tight.

See ROSIE, H&G 4

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H&G 4

Home & Garden




Continued from H&G 3 Clean the oven: A year’s worth (or more) of crusty food burned inside of your oven can smoke and create unpleasant odors in the kitchen and dining area. It can also alter the flavor of your food. If you have one, run the oven’s self-cleaning function. If not, spray on and wipe off an oven cleaning product. Keep in mind, these can be very corrosive if not used properly. For a “greener” option, wash the oven racks in a sink filled with hot water and vinegar. Soak them while you mix baking soda with water. Spread the paste over the surfaces of the oven. Spritz vinegar on top and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before wiping down and rinsing off. Rinse and dry the racks before placing them in the oven. Be sure to clean the microwave and outdoor barbecue too. Repair sticky sliding closet doors: Remove closet doors from their tracks. Place them on the floor and inspect for damage. Clean out debris inside the tracks. Straighten the tracks by holding a wood block against the track and tapping it with a hammer. Then lubricate the tracks. Tighten the screws in the overhead track as well. Reinstall closet doors; test them to be sure they are sliding smoothly. Test smoke alarms and replace batteries: A critical safety measure. If you can’t remember when you replaced the batteries, do it now. Otherwise, you and your guests may be woken up at 2 a.m. from the incessant beeping reminder. Install path lights leading to the front door: Lights can make your home look more inviting and they’re a good safety measure. Sketch and measure the area you want covered to estimate how many lights you need. Take that information to the hardware store. There are many solar options


The drip, drip, drip of a leaky

faucet can keep you awake all night and increase your water bill. available which you simply dig a small hole and insert the light. If you choose electric lights, use an outdoor GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. There are probably several outside; if not, have some installed by a licensed electrician. If you have existing GFCIs, make sure they work properly. Buy a kit that includes lights, 100 feet of low-voltage cable and a transformer to convert your home’s current into low-voltage current for the lights. Get a highquality transformer that’s slightly bigger than the total wattage of the lights you will use. You may want to buy two smaller transformers instead of one large one. Follow instructions on the kit. The hardest part of the job will probably be digging a shallow trench for the cable that carries power to the lights.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 7 to 10 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.

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Home & Garden  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Home & Garden  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019