Flowering holiday plants are always welcome gifts. Whether you bought a holiday plant for yourself or received one, you can enjoy it longer than the holiday season.
How do you keep it healthy and able to produce again even a year later? It starts with some loving care and understanding of what kind of special treatment will encourage it to thrive and re-bloom.
Known for its brightly colored leaves, poinsettias are a popular holiday plant. They are tropical plants that do not love cold weather. Once the leaves have begun to fade, make sure all original packaging (foil wrapping and plastic) are removed and place the plant in a new, well-draining container. Don’t overwater. Keep them warm and cut through the spring and then fertilize in the summer in fresh soil. In autumn, keep them in total darkness for 14 hours a day to encourage brilliant flowers.
Christmas cactus can be a temperamental plant. During the holiday season, put it where it gets bright, indirect light and water regularly, but let it drain between watering. Keep it fertilized in the spring. It is considered a short-day plant and likes about 12 hours per day for about month to re-bloom.
Bulbs like amaryllis make popular plant gifts with impressive blooms. Cut the blooms off and place the bulbs in peat moss in a dark room. Closer to the season, remove the bulb and plant it in a peaty potting mix to encourage root growth. In a few weeks, you will have new blooms.
Paperwhite narcissus have elegant, fragrant blooms. They nestle nicely into 3- to 4-inch containers and equally well into small half-inch pebbles or stones. Keep them in a cool, dark location and water as needed. Once shoots appear, move them into direct sunlight.
Cyclamen are a great addition to holiday décor and are known for their dark-green and silver heart-shaped leaves and star-like flowers in shades from white to pink, salmon, red and purple. They go dormant in the summer and like bright daytime light with a drained fertilized soil base.
Moth orchids are not as delicate as many people think and will re-bloom with a little care. Place out of direct light while in bloom and move them into brighter light when they start to fade. Cut back the flower spike. Water when the roots turn silver and potting mix is barely damp. Water in the morning and drain thoroughly. Feed with fertilizer every three to four weeks. Mist regularly.
There is nothing like a collection of live Christmas trees in your yard to commemorate holidays past. If you want to enjoy a living tree for years to come, buy a slow-growing one and keep the soil moist while inside. After the holidays move it outside to a location sheltered from wind and direct sunlight. To plant the tree, move it to a location in full sun, keep it well-watered and remove dead needles.
Succulents that often come in small pots or boxes need to be planted in larger pots to encourage growth. They like very well-drained soil and you never want to water them until the soil is very dry to the touch.
Easter lilies will bloom outside or indoors. Keep them in a bright location away from direct sunlight and remove flowers as soon as they die. When the plant turns brown, cut it off at the soil line. Plant in a garden in May, after the last spring frost. If you want it indoors, remove the bulb from the container after the plant has turned brown. Store it in a cool, moist place and repot in a 6-inch container in new potting mix a few weeks before Christmas.
A newcomer to the holiday lineup is the adorable, tiny Frosty fern. Keep it in low-to-medium light with consistent humidity and moist soil. It can be a bit finicky, so enjoy its delicate form for as long as you can.
If you’ll be away for a few days or weeks after the new year, consider making self-watering jugs. Select any type of plastic beverage container and poke tiny pinholes in the lower side of each, then dig a hole near the plant and bury the side with the holes. Right before you depart on your trip, fill each container with water; the water will slowly drip into the soil, keeping the plant roots nicely hydrated for several days.
With care and attention, you can enjoy your holiday plants long after the season and welcome them back for many years or proudly gift them to a friend or family member.
Have a safe and very happy New Year!