The Christmas season is full of packages, bows, food, and plants. Many plants are grown strictly for the Christmas holiday, such as poinsettias, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis. Other plants given during the holiday season are holly, lilies, and miniature Christmas trees. These plants all look wonderful through December and maybe even January. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, many poinsettias are dead, the amaryllis lost its bloom, and the Christmas tree has lost its charm. Keep these plants alive or stored properly for another season, with a little care and some planning.
Poinsettias need the dark to make their stunning foliage turn red, but this plant actually prefers plenty of sunlight. Keep your plant beside a bright window during the winter months. Poinsettias also need lots of water and you should check the soil every day for moisture. If the soil feels dry, water the plant until the run-off comes out of the bottom of the container. If you have a catch-basin under the plant, discard the water to keep the soil from staying wet and rotting the plant. Poinsettias like a cool temperature of 70 to 75 degrees during the day and 65 to 70 degrees overnight. You can make your poinsettia flower again the following Christmas by cutting back the stem in May,setting the plant outside, and keeping the soil moist for most of the summer. New foliage will appear after about a month. Pinch the new growth back to promote a more busy plant. Bring the plant back inside in early October and shorten the daylight by keeping the plant in the dark from 5 pm to 8 am each day. Place the poinsettia in a very bright window from 8 am to 5 pm. Your plant will bloom in time for Christmas. One other note of interest, contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous.
Hollys and miniature trees are easily taken care of after the holidays by keeping them well watered and fed with a common houseplant fertilizer. Once you can work the soil in your garden, transplant the holly or Christmas tree out into the garden. Keep the plants watered daily for the first month, until the roots become established.
Amaryllis grows giant blooms in a variety of colors on a tall stalk. The plant is breathtaking when in bloom. After the bloom fades, you can save the bulb for next Christmas. Remove the flower stalk but leave the rest of the foliage so the plant can replenish its nutrient supply. You can keep the plant by a bright window until outdoor temperatures allow you to plant the bulb in your garden. Allow the amaryllis to grow outside for most of the summer. Dig up the amaryllis in August, allow the bulb to dry out, and store it in a cool, dry place until the last week of October. Plant the bulb in a large pot so the upper 1/3 of the bulb is exposed. Water the bulb well and place it in a warm, bright location. Water the amarylllis bulb sparingly until stems start to appear. After the foliage starts to grow, water twice a week. It takes 7 to 10 weeks for your amarylllis bulb to bloom.
Lilies need a period of rest after blooming. Once the flower dies, cut back the stalk, reduce watering, and allow the stems to die back naturally. Remove the bulb from the container and store in a cool place until spring. Plant the bulb outdoors and dig it up before winter weather occurs.
These tips should allow you to enjoy your Christmas plants for years to come.