How to Care for Poinsettias and Other Christmas Plants

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Holiday plants add beauty and life to holiday decorations, but only if they are healthy and well cared for. An unhealthy plant will not look very festive! If care is taken, you can keep your holiday plants looking fresh and beautiful throughout the season. Here are some tips to keep your plants in tip-top shape.

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are the most popular holiday plants, but they rarely live past Christmas. They do require special care, but they can live for years and grow to the size of a small tree if cared for properly.

Look for poinsettias that are not wilted or shedding leaves. There should be good color in the leaves, with no brown edges. It should be well-formed and about twice as tall as the diameter of its pot. You must be sure to cover these plants before taking them out in the cold to bring them home.

When you arrive home, remove the plastic or foil wrapper that is around the pot. This wrapper may look pretty, but it will reduce the air circulation and trap water around the plant’s roots, leading to root rot. Place the poinsettia near a window that provides bright, indirect sunlight. It is vital to protect the poinsettia from drafts of any kind. Keep it away from fans, radiators, and drafty doors and windows.

The poinsettia needs plenty of humidity. Place the plant in a bowl of gravel that has water in the bottom, or place a bowl of water beside it. Never allow it to sit directly in water. Keep the soil moist, but not excessively wet. You should never let the leaves wilt, but do allow the very top of the soil to become dry between each watering.

Christmas Cactus

This long-lived flowering plant is native to South America and thrives in a cool, moist environment, unlike a desert cactus. It is available in a wide variety of colors, and it can live for many years.

Place your Christmas cactus where it can receive the largest amount of indirect light possible. It is sensitive about its location, and does not like to be moved once it has found a home. It should be kept in a cool room, with ideal temperatures in the low sixties.

Do not fertilize your Christmas cactus in late summer or early fall, when the buds are forming. This is a sensitive time for the plant, and it should only be watered enough to keep it from shriveling or wrinkling. After flowering, you can fertilize the plant every two weeks. Christmas cacti need excellent drainage. Only water when the top layer of soil is dry, and never allow it to sit in water. It is a good idea to increase humidity around the plant by placing a bowl of water nearby.

Amaryllis

This tall flowering bulb is a popular gift for the holidays. Its large showy flowers range in color from white to various shades of pink and red. Often, you can find the amaryllis bulb packaged with soil and a decorative pot. It is one of the easiest plants to care for.

Plant the amaryllis in moist potting soil, with the roots pointing down. Pack the soil firmly around the bulb, but allow the top third to protrude up out of the soil. Go ahead and place a bamboo stake in the pot, as this will be necessary when the plant flowers. Place the pot where it will get a good amount of natural light.

Water the bulb infrequently until the shoot appears; then, keep the soil moist but not soggy. You may fertilize every three weeks with a weak fertilizer. It may be necessary to rotate the pot, as the plant will lean toward the light source. Your amaryllis will bloom approximately six to eight weeks after planting.

Holiday plants are a great way to add life and freshness to a dark time of year. With a little know-how, you can make these plants look beautiful the entire holiday season, bringing beauty to your holiday décor.

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