University of Vermont Extension
Winter (Holiday) News
Department of Plant and Soil Science
HOLIDAY PLANT CARE AND OTHER DECEMBER
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
your holiday plants the proper care for longest life, caring for
indoors, and watching for spider mites are some of the gardening
water and fertilizer on Christmas cactus if the buds are developing.
the colorful bracts on poinsettias, keep them where temperatures
70 degrees (F) during the day or drop
below 65 degrees at night. Also keep
poinsettias out of drafts, and don’t overwater.
Kalanchoe, with their brightly colored flowers, have thick,
dark green leaves. Given warm and dry
conditions and soil, and bright light, they’ll last for weeks.
potted amaryllis in a cool (60 degrees) shaded location until buds
move it wherever you like. Cyclamen prefer cool temperatures, too,
so keep them
back from south-facing windows that heat up during the day.
Cyclamen also prefer even moisture, so don’t
allow to wilt and definitely don’t keep too wet or they may rot.
narcissus are a popular bulb to “force” for the holidays, if you
don’t mind the
fragrance. Unlike other daffodil
relatives, these don’t need cold to flower.
Simply pot, give cool if possible until shoots start (50 to 60
at night is ideal), then give more warmth.
Too much warmth and shoots may get top-heavy and need staking.
pot paperwhites, as with other bulbs, keep the tips at or above the
level. Use a bagged houseplant soil,
with three bulbs in a pot 6-inches across.
Or, you can place bulbs half buried in a pot of white gravel to hold
them. For the latter, use a pot or vase
with no drainage holes. Keep water in
the bottom, but make sure the bulbs aren’t continually submerged in
violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given
light. To propagate new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end
rooting hormone powder (from a garden store), and stick the cutting
in a pot
filled with vermiculite, perlite, or sand. Cover the pot with a
clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll
you brought in your geranium plants this fall and are growing them
winter, chances are they've become leggy. The cloudy, short days of
December don't provide enough light for these plants to thrive. Cut
plants to about 1 foot tall. They will resprout and grow bushier in
days of late winter.
warm, dry indoor air in winter is prime breeding ground for spider
your houseplants. Look very closely at the undersides of leaves, at
the base of
stems, and on new buds for fine webbing. Another sign of such mites
is leaves that are
finely speckled. Looking
underneath with a magnifying glass you’ll see their
webbing and them moving about if present.
Set any suspicious-looking plants in the shower to wash off the
and repeat frequently. Insecticidal soap also works, but it's smelly
can help increase the humidity around plants by misting with one of
misters as you find at hardware stores.
This may harm furniture though, so an alternative is to place plants
a tray of pebbles, and keep them moistened whenever you water the
gardening activities for this month including shopping for gifts for
at local garden outlets or online, visiting a cut-your-own tree farm
Christmas tree or other holiday decorations, hanging suet blocks for
keeping bird feeders filled daily.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).