Tis the season for gift-giving! Chances are you will either purchase or receive a holiday plant such as a poinsettia or amaryllis. They sure look lovely when you receive them, but what about after the holidays? How do you keep them looking great? Here are some tips on caring for some common holiday plants:
Let me set something straight about these lovely plants. They are native to Mexico and Central America and do not survive outside here in our region! Please keep your poinsettia indoors for now.
Once you receive your plant, unwrap it carefully and place in indirect light. It needs about 6 hours of light per day.
Keep the plant from cold windows, cold drafts and away from heat vents or radiators.
Poinsettias require daytime temperatures of about 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F.
Check the soil daily. If possible, take the plant out of the foil and gently water underneath in a sink. Branches are very delicate and can easily break. Allow all water to drain before returning plant back to its foil.
Apply a an indoor plant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize while it is in bloom. With good care, poinsettias will last several months.
By the way, contrary to what you may hear, poinsettias are not completely toxic to a child or pet, though if ingested will give them a bad tummy ache.
These grow from a bulb and are native to South Africa. They form huge flowers up to 7” across and come in a wide variety of colors. After the flowers begin to drop, follow these instructions:
1. Cut the flower stalk after blooming stops, but allow the foliage to grow. You can place your plant outdoors for summer, if you like, in partial shade.
2. Keep watered so the soil is moist, but not wet.
3. Stop feeding in August.
4. Before a frost in fall, move your Amaryllis to a cool, dry spot and stop watering. The foliage will die back and a flower spike will start to form.
5. If you want your Amaryllis to bloom at a specific time such as Christmas, count backwards about 10 – 12 weeks, (mid- October) to determine when to stop watering.
Cyclamen are native to Europe, the Mediterranean and areas in Iran. They grow from a tuberous root and come in pink, red, purple and white.
When you receive this plant, it’s important to keep it cool and to water it correctly. Most folks make the mistake of putting it in a room that is too hot. Make sure not to over-water your plant. Always wait until the soil surface is dry prior to watering.
Fertilize the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer for indoor plants every 3-4 weeks.
Once it stops blooming it will lose flowers and leaves will begin to wilt. This will begin a stage of dormancy. You can choose to throw it away or put the plant in a cool dry place, let it go dormant until fall. As long as the tuber is plump and hard, it should be fine. Water thoroughly and wait for new leaves to sprout.
Contrary to their desert cousins, these cacti grow in the mountains of south-eastern Brazil in a shady humid environment.
Christmas cactus need a well-lit location away from drafts from heat vents. After blooming, blooming use a fertilizer specifically for houseplants. Trimming back the plant after blooming will encourage more branching.
You may move your plant outdoors in summer but be sure to put it in a shady location; otherwise the leaves can turn red and burn. Now that you have these tips you will hopefully enjoy your plants well beyond the holiday season.