Want to keep your Christmas plants around for a while? Here are some tips from various Web sites.
Want to keep your Christmas plants around for a while? Here are some tips from various Web sites:
Poinsettia: Keep in bright light but not direct sun. Mist if your home is dry. Let soil dry between watering. Poke holes in the foil wrapper or remove it. Keep away from drafts, either cold or warm.
Want it to bloom next year? This is tricky but fun to try. As your plant begins to fade, gradually reduce water until all the colorful leaves drop. Allow it to dry completely, and store in a 50-degree setting until spring. Then repot it and resume watering. You should get a beautiful and fairly large plant by fall. Around August or September, cut it back by a third. If you want big flowers, cut the plant back to three to five stems. Ten weeks before you want color, put the plant in a place of total darkness for 12 to 14 hours each night and a bright, sunny spot by day. You can put it inside a large box, cupboard or closet. People say this works. It never has for me.
Christmas cactus: Water thoroughly, and again when the top inch of soil is dry. Give it as much humidity as possible, perhaps with a container of water nearby. Avoid drafts. Keep in a well-lighted location.
Want it to bloom again? Also tricky, but doable. In September or October, put the cactus in a room where the temperature stays around 50 degrees. Pick a spot where there is no artificial light at night. Give it indirect but bright light during the day. It’s much the same as caring for a poinsettia except the cactus needs cooler temperatures. Many families keep these going for generations.
Amaryllis: This showy bloomer is easy to care for. Even I have luck with it. Keep it in a sunny spot all winter, and it’s OK to take it outdoors in summer. It will only have leaves by then. Bring it indoors in fall and reduce watering gradually, stopping by Oct. 1. When the foliage dries, remove it. Allow it to rest (I put mine in the basement) until you see new growth. Bring it back to the light, water and fertilize. Mine seldom bloom right at Christmas, but their color is even more welcome a month or so later.
Cyclamen: Water whenever soil feels dry, but don’t get water on the plant. Give as much light as possible; indirect sun is best. As flowers fade, gradually allow plant to dry out for two to three months. You should see new growth around fall. Resume watering and fertilizing. It’s OK to put outdoors in summer, but temperature should never go below 50 degrees.
Mums: A reader asked how to save her Thanksgiving mum, which appears to be dying. It was probably forced to bloom and now needs a rest. Allow mums to go dormant. Some sources say you can put potted mums outside. I know they do fine in the ground but I think I would try the garage for those in pots. When you see new growth in spring, give it lots of sun, water and some fertilizer.
Cut back to 1 to 2 inches once in spring and again in late June. That will give you a fuller, sturdier plant with more blooms in fall.
Geri Nikolai writes about home and garden for the Rockford Register Star. Contact her at 815-871-6850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.