University of Vermont Extension
Winter (Holiday) News
Department of Plant and Soil Science
CARE OF FLOWERING HOLIDAY
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
you purchased or received a poinsettia, cyclamen, or other flowering potted plant
for the holidays, there's no need to throw it out after bloom. With proper care
and feeding, these potted plants will continue to flower for many weeks, and
may even bloom again next year.
most popular flowering potted plant and one most buy, or receive as a gift, is
the poinsettia. They need good drainage,
so if the pot is wrapped in foil, remove the foil or make a hole in the bottom
so water can drain out. Put a saucer underneath to protect furniture, but make
sure water does remain in the saucer. Then water only when the soil surface is
dry. If in doubt, don’t water. Too much
water leads to drooping and falling leaves, and root rots.
common complaint about poinsettias is that they lose their leaves too quickly.
This is a sign of poor growing conditions. Poinsettias need at least a half day
of sun or bright light for at least 8 hours, a draft-free location, and night
temperatures of 65 degrees (F) or above. Given the proper care, you’ll probably
get tired of the poinsettias before they begin to lose their color, often as
late as mid-summer.
you want to try and get poinsettias to bloom next year, grow them through the
season as you would other houseplants.
Then from early October, for at least 10 weeks, you’ll need to move the
plant into darkness every night, and bring it out into daylight every day. Plants need 12 hours or less of daylight for
this period, every day, to rebloom.
Christmas cactus responds well to the shorter days of fall, and cool
temperatures. It usually will bloom year after year if kept at 50 degrees for
several weeks each fall. Starting about
mid-September, gradually reduce
watering until buds set. Then keep soil constantly moist (but not waterlogged).
amaryllis, with its stalk of colorful blooms, is another favorite holiday
plant. After the flowers fade, cut the flower stalk to about two inches above
the bulb. Place in a lighted area, water, and fertilize as with other
houseplants. Next summer, place it outdoors, and continue to water and feed as
needed. When the tops die down, bring it indoors again. For four weeks, keep at
70 degrees and water sparingly. At the end of that time, increase water to
encourage new stalks and blooms.
popular kalanchoe (said as cal-AN-cho), found in many bright colors through
late fall and winter, is a “succulent” plant or one with thick leaves, and that
prefers dry soil. In addition to not
overwatering, this plant grows best in high light. Keep cool (55 to 65 degrees) at night and
warmer (65 to 75 degrees) during day. Fertilize
as with other houseplants while it is blooming and growing. If you want to try and rebloom these next
year, you’ll need to give a similar fall light schedule as with poinsettias.
are found through the holidays and winter in stores. They will bloom for the
longest period if kept cool (68 degrees or less), the soil stays moist (but don't
overwater), and with bright light. Feed monthly, using a fertilizer especially formulated
for acid-loving plants, or at least houseplant fertilizer, according to label
directions. The ones you find in stores are “florist’s azaleas” and are not
hardy planted outdoors in northern climates.
you plan to keep an azalea, snip off flowers when they fade and pinch back the
tips of the new shoots to promote compact, bushy growth. You can put plants
outside in their pots during summer. Before
the first fall frost, move the plant indoors to a cool, sunny room, preferably
with 45 to 50 degree nights until buds begin to swell. Then move it into a
warmer (60 degree minimum nights) location to force flowering.
can prolong the bloom of your cyclamen by keeping it cool (68 degrees or below
is best) and evenly moist. Too high temperatures, too little or too much water,
or too low light may cause leaves to yellow and drop. With proper conditions,
and if plants begin with lots of buds, you can have flowers for many
weeks. Feed regularly with houseplant
food at about half strength.
discard cyclamen after bloom. If you
want to keep them for possible future blooms, stop watering when leaves turn
yellow and wither. Keep dry, in cool,
and out of direct sun. When you see the
first signs of growth in fall, or at least by October, water well. Water again and treat as above when shoots
and leaves appear.
are other potted flowering plants you may find in stores, including mums,
gerbera daisies, or ornamental peppers.
As with other such potted plants, generally cool temperatures (60 to 70
degrees) and avoiding too much water will result in the longest bloom
period. You’ll also get the longest
bloom if you buy plants with lots of buds rather than all flowers already fully