Melinda's Gardening How-To: Holiday Plant Care

Get the most out of the holiday plants you give, receive or purchase for your own enjoyment. When properly transported, tended and displayed they can provide weeks of beauty and enjoyment throughout the holidays and beyond.

Transport with Care
• Pasquesi will carefully wrap your holiday plant to create a beautiful gift but more importantly protect it from the cold temperatures on its journey home.
• Rewrap the plant anytime you move it outdoors and never leave it sitting in a cold car while shopping or running errands. 
  *A chilled plant looks fine until it thaws. By the next day the plant turns grayish- green, wilts and dies.

General Care Tips
• Place the plant in a cool brightly lit location. The cool temperatures and indirect light help the blooms last longer.
• Fold down the foil wrap, if present, to let the sunlight reach all leaves
• Avoid drafts of hot and cold air. These can dry or chill the plant shortening bloom time and increasing leaf drop.
• Keep the soil moist, like a damp sponge, but not wet. Water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil start to dry.
• Pour out any water that collects in the foil, basket, or saucer. Or place pebbles in the bottom of the container or saucer to elevate the plant above sitting water.
• Remove spent flowers from mums, cyclamen and kalanchoes. This keeps the plant looking fresh and often encourages more blooms.

Specific Care for Favorite Holiday Plants
Poinsettia
• Remove the protective sleeve as soon as you arrive home. The upward bent leaves release ethylene that decreases the longevity of the colorful display.
• Remove the true flowers (small yellow knobby structures) so the plant can spend all its energy maintaining the plant and colorful bracts (leaves) we call flowers.
• Move your plant to a sunny window when the holidays have passed.
• Fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering plant fertilizer and water as needed. Grow like other houseplants if you want to continue to enjoy your plant throughout the coming year.

Christmas Cactus
• The Christmas cactus can provide flowers for 4 to 8 weeks with proper care
• Avoid drafts, moisture stress and other changes in the environment that can result in bud and flower drop.
• Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist.
• Fertilizer and grow in a sunny window like other houseplants once the flowering is complete.

Cyclamen
• Enjoy months of flowers by keeping the soil slightly moist and the plant in a cool location.
• Avoid soggy soil and drafts of hot and cold air.
• Decrease watering as flowering stops and the foliage begins to decline. Remove dried leaves and transplant the corms into any organic houseplant potting mix.
• Move your cyclamen to a sunny location and water whenever the soil starts to dry. Begin fertilizing with any flowering houseplant fertilizer, once new growth begins.

Amaryllis
• Plant your amaryllis bulb in a container that is slightly larger than the bulb and has drainage holes.
• Set the bulb in a well-drained potting mix so just the point of the bulb is above the soil.
• Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist.
• Once the flowers appear keep the plant in a cool bright location free of hot and cold drafts.
• Set in a deep clear vase or use decorative supports to keep the long strappy leaves and flower stems and looking their best.
• Remove faded flowers but leave the flowering stem intact until no more buds appear.
• Once flowering is complete move your plant to a sunny window, fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering plant fertilizer and grow like other houseplants.

Paper Whites
• Start by filling a shallow container with sterile pea gravel, pebbles or marbles. Add just enough water to reach the top of the stones. Place the bulbs on the gravel and add enough additional stones to hold the bulbs in place.
• Or plant them in a container filled with any well-drained potting mix. Leave the tops of the bulbs exposed. Keep the potting mix moist.
• Store the planted bulbs in a cool (45 to 60 degree) location so the roots can develop.
• Once leaves appear, move the paper whites to a bright location.

Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!