Issues in the Field - Conservation

Change in Arrangement Medium

November 2023

In keeping with our mission advocating “sound environmental stewardship” we are transitioning away from the use of floral foam, a plastic product that will never biodegrade. Safer and more sustainable options include a medium made of fibers derived from natural volcanic basalt rock.  Some of our larger arrangements may utilize chicken wire to create an armature to hold stems. Items lined with chicken wire will have a minimum amount of water in the vessel, allowing for the bottom of stems to be submerged, without creating a mess in transport. A few arrangements may contain the last of our inventory of floral foam.


There is no change in caring for arrangements- the key is to keep water in the vessel or liner that contains your greens. Be sure to top off the water when you get your arrangement home.


We choose evergreens that will retain their color until Christmas if properly cared for. We source cut greens from premier vendors and harvest unusual elements from our own gardens. We do not use greens that shed needles quickly. Just as a cut Christmas tree stops taking up water after spending time indoors, so too will our arrangements. But you can still enjoy their color and texture for weeks after purchase.


Some important tips to assure that your arrangement holds through the holidays:


  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Keep the container full of water- be sure to check it daily! Take a look at how your arrangement was put together. If a container is not water-tight we insert a liner. Stick your finger inside the liner- add water, carefully, until you feel the water level rise. Water-tight vessels can simply be filled with water.
  • You can move an arrangement into a cool garage overnight in order to decrease the frequency of watering. If you want to assure your arrangement will hold until Christmas leave it in a cool space, but be sure to check the water level.
  • Misting will also prolong the life of foliage.
  • Outdoor arrangements last for a long time and do not need to be watered because of the cool temperatures. They can be exposed to the elements without a problem.

Links for plant and arrangement care:


Issues in the Field - Invasives

Information on Invasives

Fox Chapel Borough, April 2023

Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Program Information from the PA Dept of Agriculture


Invasive Species Information from the Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCED)


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FCGC's Position on Invasives

Fox Chapel Garden Club, November 2018

It has recently come to the attention of the Fox Chapel Garden Club via the Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania State Extension that two invasives are present in our local gardens: Asian jumping worms and Japanese stiltgrass. 

In order to curb the spread of these two very environmentally destructive invasives, the FCGC has taken the position that any club sponsored plant sharing and/or sales must adopt the following procedure:

1.    Any plant dug from a member’s yard must have the soil removed from the plant’s roots, and the roots must be rinsed in water.

2.    All soil and debris in recycled pots must be removed, pots should be washed, and then dipped in a fragrance-free bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution with a 9:1 ratio of water to disinfectant. 

3.    Using a purchased soilless potting mix, repot the plant in a sterilized pot (see step 2 above).


Since the inception of the event, our club has enthusiastically participated in Gardenfest. This participation involves the harvesting of perennial plants from our members’ gardens, transporting the plants to a holding garden, watering the harvested plants before the event, transporting the plants to the event location, and finally educating the public during the sales of our perennials.


Since the above digging and potting procedure has been adopted, it is our position that we will continue to participate in the event, but will selectively choose the species and number of plants for Gardenfest 2019. The increase in time to properly prepare our plants according to the Department of Agriculture recommendations will not allow us to offer the large quantity of plants that we usually dig and sell at Gardenfest.


Jumping Worms

Poison Hemlock

Spotted Lanternfly