While a large holiday tree may be the tradition in many homes, more people are turning to unusual tabletop holiday plants to decorate their homes this time of year. The advantages are obvious. Tabletop plants don't take up much space, they require less maintenance, and some can be used as garden plants next summer. They also make great holiday gifts!
While most people think of Christmas cactus and poinsettias as tabletop plants, there are some unusual types. The simplest is to purchase a young version of a traditional holiday tree. You can purchase small fir, spruce or pine trees that have been grown in containers. Hang some ornaments and small lights and viola, you have a tabletop show-stopper. After the holidays, keep the evergreen in a cool, brightly lit room or garage with barely moist soil. It should survive so you can plant it in spring.
For the more culinary-minded, container rosemary plants can be found this time of year. They're trimmed to be thick and lush, like a holiday tree, with the added benefit of the rosemary scent and taste. Keep them in a sunny window and move the plant to a table when company arrives. If kept slightly moist and in a bright window, your rosemary tree may survive the winter to be planted outdoors in spring.
Lemon cypress has soft foliage and a lemony scent when rubbed. This tree is available in containers and makes a beautiful tabletop tree for the holidays. Similar to rosemary, keep the plant in a sunny, cool room to thrive. It isn't hardy in Vermont, but could make a fun annual next summer.
Of course, for the economical, you can do what I did one year as a bachelor, decorate our Norfolk Island Pine houseplant for the holidays. It may not look Christmasy, but it was cheap!
Now for this week's tip: check stored winter squash and cull and eat any that are beginning to rot. Hubbard, buttercup and butternut squashes usually last longest in storage.