December 18, 2014
Holiday Plant Care—A Must-Read!
Christmas plants aren’t just for Christmas! With a little knowledge, a bit of care and a whole lot of love, many of your favorite Christmas plants can last long after the final ornament is put away. With the proper care, these plants will reward you with brightly colored blooms and foliage through the gray and colorless days of winter.
The poinsettia remains one of the most popular flowers in the American home at Christmas time today. They come in a variety of beautiful colors and sizes. Here are a few tips you should know in caring for your poinsettia plant.
When you first bring your poinsettia home, it is important to place it near a sunny window. The poinsettia is in fact a tropical plant and will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can provide. To keep them blooming as long as possible, it is best to maintain a temperature of 67–75 degrees during the day and as low as 60 degrees at night. Be careful not to expose them to extreme shifts in temperature to help prevent a condition known as leaf drop. Leaf drop may also happen when your plant becomes too wet or to dry. Premature leaf drop can also occur when the leaves of your poinsettia touch a cold window or get a cold draft. It is best to keep your poinsettia away from drafty cold windows or doorways and also overly hot areas.
It is equally important to check your poinsettia daily for water. Water the poinsettia whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. If your pot is wrapped in foil, pierce the foil at the bottom for drainage or take the plant out to water it. Never allow the pot to stand in water. Maintain soil moisture at moderate and uniform levels, neither soggy nor bone dry.
The cyclamen is a lovely flowering houseplant that blooms in the winter. The plant develops from an underground corm, similar to a bulb. Follow some of these basic requirements below for a beautiful winter-blooming houseplant!
Cyclamen will tolerate average room temperatures of 65–75 degrees during the day, but cooler temperatures will prolong the blooming period. Night temperatures should range from 50–55 degrees. They typically like a room with bright indirect light. The cyclamen should be moist at all times, but not saturated, and never let water get on the base of this plant or it will rot. You may water your cyclamen from the bottom 2–3 times a week in a pebble filled saucer, but do not keep the plant standing in water. Be careful NOT to get the leaves wet while watering if you choose to water your plant from the top. Do not spray! You can fertilize your cyclamen at half of the recommended strength, once every two weeks during flowering.
Paperwhite bulbs are another great houseplant to have around the holiday season! Narcissus will grow happily and bloom with nothing more than water and stones or beach glass. This is a super fun, fragrant flower to watch grow with your family around the holidays!
Set your container or vase in a cool place (50–60 degree F is ideal) away from direct sunlight. When you see roots developing, usually about three weeks after setting your bulbs, move your container to a sunny window. Or if your bulbs are in a potting mixture, tug gently. If you meet with resistance, move to a sunny window. Check your bulbs frequently and water thoroughly when the container is dry 1” below the surface (but not more than once a week until the bulbs begin active growth) or when the water level is more than an inch below the stones or glass in your vase. Once plants flower, they will last longer if moved out of a sunny location to a cool spot with indirect light. When paperwhites are forced to bloom indoors, they have a tendency to become top heavy with flowers. When this happens, you could use small birch branch pieces or curly willow to hold up the heavy stem heads. Wrap with a red ribbon or a bow to make a festive look for the holiday.
Amaryllis is another great bulb to plant in the home for the holidays. This bulb can be planted in a pot that is slightly larger than the existing bulb (an inch between the bulb and the pot’s side is a good guideline). Leave the neck of the bulb exposed. At the time of planting, water thoroughly and then wait until the soil dries thoroughly before watering again. The bulb needs time to produce new roots before it can accept frequent watering. Generally, the first flower stack emerges a short time after the first or second watering and reaches its mature height in a short period of time. Once this growth has begun, water thoroughly whenever the soil surface looks and feels dry.
Adequate light will be needed for good leaf growth. Leaves begin sprouting during flowering or shortly after. When these leaves are seen, provide a sunny location (at least four hours daily). Watering will be more frequent as more and more leaves develop. Fertilize frequently during this leafy time with a weak ratio 20-20-20 fertilizer. These leaves will be active from the time they appear through the spring and summer. By September, however, they will be ready for a rest.
Another popular houseplant around the holidays is the Christmas Cactus. This plant requires direct sunlight in the winter months. The Christmas cactus should be watered when the top inch of soil in the container feels decidedly dry to the touch. Then, soak the soil thoroughly, until water comes through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Wait 15 minutes and discard the excess water that has accumulated in the drip tray beneath the container. This cactus grows best when humidity is high.
These are just a few of my favorite holiday plants. Stop in and check out much more and ask our friendly greenhouse staff any questions you may have! We look forward to seeing you and Merry Christmas!
Tiffany Rausch | Greenhouse Sales & Design