"Oh by gosh, by golly, it's time for mistletoe and holly!" crooned Frank Sinatra in the 1950s. The holiday tune celebrates 2 of the 3 plants most associated with Christmas. (The third would be poinsettia.)
Holly and mistletoe have long been associated with the winter holidays because they maintain color after everything else dies off for the season.
Mistletoe is actually a parasite. Its branches latch onto a host tree to siphon off nutrients and water. You generally won't notice mistletoe until the winter when it appears as a ball of green in a bare tree.
The white mistletoe berries are mildly poisonous in that they can cause a stomachache in people or pets that eat them.
We are all familiar with the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. In more conservative times, it gave couples an excuse to publicly display affection. But today, no one needs permission to smooch and mistletoe is less in demand as an ornamental plant.
The hollies considered to best represent Christmas are English and American hollies because they both contain red berries. Hollies are popular outdoor bushes that prefer full sun and soil that retains moisture.
Prune a holly in December and enjoy the cuttings throughout the holiday season. One of the best uses of the cuttings is to decorate an evergreen wreath.
Come visit Enchanted Florist this season and we'll custom craft a holly wreath for you. We also have sprigs of mistletoe for you traditionalists out there.
From my family to yours, have a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!