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Outdoor Christmas Plant - Ilex aquifolium, Christmas holly
Ilex aquifolium (holly, common holly, English holly, European holly, or occasionally Christmas holly), is a species of holly native to Western and Southern Europe, Northwest Africa, and Southwest Asia.
It is an evergreen tree or shrub. As a tree, it can exceed 10 m in height. It is usually found as a shrub or a small tree about 1 m tall with a straight trunk and pyramidal crown, with branches from the base. It is slow growing and it does not usually fully mature due to grazing, cutting, or fire. It can live 500 years, but usually does not reach 100.
How to grow
The best time for planting holly bushes is in spring when relatively low temperatures combine with higher rainfall.
The best location for planting holly bushes is in well-drained but not dry, slightly acidic soil in full sun. Most hollies are very tolerant to less than ideal locations and will grow well in part shade or dry or swampy soil.
Holly bush is watered daily for the first week, twice a week for a month after that and, if planting in spring, once a week for the remainder of summer.
Fertilise your holly bushes once a year with a balanced fertiliser.
Pruning your holly bushes will ensure that they keep a nice compact form rather than becoming leggy and scraggly.
Links: Ilex aquifolium at Wikipedia
Ilex aquifolium at RHS
Indoor Christmas Plant - Shlumbergera, Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus may be known under various names like Thanksgiving cactus or Easter cactus. This winter-flowering houseplant makes a great addition to nearly any indoor setting. Christmas cactus is not only easy to care for but propagates easily too, making it an exceptional candidate for holiday gift giving.
How to grow
The Christmas cactus propagates by cutting a short Y-shaped segment from the stem tips. Plant the segment approximately a quarter of its length deep in slightly sandy soil. Moisten evenly and place the cutting in a well-lit area, staying away from any direct sunlight.
The Christmas cactus will adapt to low light conditions, but the plant will produce blooms more readily if exposed to brighter light. The plant prefers temperatures hovering between 15 and 21 degrees C (60-70 F).
The plant requires frequent and thorough watering, during its active growth in spring and summer, keeping the soil slightly moist. Allow Christmas cactus moisture levels to drop and dry out some between watering intervals.
Applying a mild houseplant fertiliser solution every other week is also acceptable.
Links: Shlumbergera at Wikipedia
Shlumbergera at RHS