Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Extend the Holidays: How to Care for Poinsettias, Amaryllis, and Other Seasonal Houseplants

Search

Extend the Holidays: How to Care for Poinsettias, Amaryllis, and Other Seasonal Houseplants

January 4, 2024

The new year brings clean slates, changing trends, fresh resolutions—and new houseplants. Remember that orchid a friend brought to your dinner party? Or the festive poinsettia you brought home? They’re still kicking around. After the holidays, when you’re putting away the decorations, you may be looking at those plants and asking yourself, “Now what?”

Resist the urge to toss them out after the holidays. With a bit of attention, they can last for years. Here’s how to care for a few of the more popular holiday plants.

Poinsettia

Photograph by Justine Hand, from \10 Things Nobody Tells You About Poinsettias.
Above: Photograph by Justine Hand, from 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Poinsettias.

In the Aztecs language, poinsettias were known as cuetlaxochitl (kwet-la-sho-she), meaning a flower that looks like embers. But for the record, the plant is not deadly—merely irritating unless you’re allergic to it.

  • Water, but not too much. Let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings. If your poinsettias came in a plastic pot with a decorative foil wrap, discard the wrap, it can trap water and cause root rot.
  • Provide plenty of bright indirect light. If you only have windows with direct sun, hang a sheer curtain to diffuse the light.
  • Keep them warm. They are tropical plants. Place them in rooms where the temperature stays above 50 degrees and away from drafty windows.
  • Move them outside once the temperatures in your area are above 50 degrees at night. Bring them back inside in September if you want them to re-bloom.
  • Give them darkness to encourage re-blooming. The shorter days prompt the plant to start the flowering process. Starting in late September, make sure the plant gets 14 hours of complete darkness a day for 8 to 10 weeks.

Christmas Cactus

Photograph by chrisbb via Flickr, from Gardening \10\1: Christmas Cactus.
Above: Photograph by chrisbb via Flickr, from Gardening 101: Christmas Cactus.

Christmas cacti can live 30 years. It’s also known as Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus, and orchid cactus.

  • Don’t overwater. Water only when the soil is dry. While it is a cactus, it’s one that’s native to the Brazilian rainforest. They need humidity. If misting them daily is too much trouble, place them on a humidity tray. (Fill the tray with pebbles and water; replenish water as needed.)
  • Provide bright indirect light, the same as their poinsettia friends.
  • Keep them warm. Like the other plants on this list, room temperature is perfect for them. Make sure to keep them away from cold drafts.
  • Fertilize monthly during their growing season only with a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer.
  • To re-bloom, prune the tips off in June. Then in mid to late October, give the plant 14 hours of complete darkness for six to eight weeks.

Rosemary Topiary

Photograph by Anna Williams, from Hilary Robertson&#8\2\17;s The Stuff of Life. See more of this garden in Garden Visit: The Red Chair Hudson, NY.
Above: Photograph by Anna Williams, from Hilary Robertson’s The Stuff of Life. See more of this garden in Garden Visit: The Red Chair Hudson, NY.
  • Rosemary’s latin name is ‘ros’ meaning dew and ‘marinus’ meaning sea. It’s native to the Mediterranean area, specifically Spain and Portugal.
  • Water regularly and deeply. While drought-tolerant, it shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It’s happiest growing in a well-draining potting medium.
  • Give it full sun. Unlike the others on this list, it loves the sun. Go for at least six hours or more if possible.
  • Fertilize lightly during the growing season. It doesn’t need much.
  • Prune it if you want to. You can certainly keep the tree shape, but you don’t have to. You should only prune during the growing season, but you’re fine if you need a few sprigs for a recipe during the winter.
  • Check for pests. Rosemary can get whitefly, among other pests. Neem oil, when used correctly, can get rid of them.

Moth Orchid

Photography by Dawn Uhalley courtesy of Green Door Design, from Orchids: Expert Advice from Susie Turner of Green Door Design.
Above: Photography by Dawn Uhalley courtesy of Green Door Design, from Orchids: Expert Advice from Susie Turner of Green Door Design.

There are about 28,000 different types of orchids in the world, but we will be speaking about one of the most popular ones that’s given as a gift, Phalaenopsis aka, the moth orchid.

  • Remove the orchid from the decorative pot if it has no drainage holes. Move it to a proper orchid pot, which has drainage holes on both the bottom of the pot and the sides. Moth orchids need excellent drainage.
  • Water as needed, when the potting medium is dry an inch down. Don’t water with ice cubes. Don’t let it dry out. If your home is dry, you’ll need to water more often. An ideal place is the bathroom for the humidity, or place the plant on a humidity tray.
  • Place in bright indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves.
  • Fertilize your orchid lightly with orchid specific fertilizer during the growing season only.
  • Look out for pests. Check your plant for scale and treat quickly.

Amaryllis

Above: Photograph by Jim Powell, from Ask the Experts: What’;s Your Favorite Valentine’s Day Flower?

Native to Africa and named after a Greek myth, it’s also known as ‘Naked Ladies’ since the flowers come out before the leaves. Cared for appropriately, it can live for 75 years.

  • Water only when the soil is dry to the touch. They are drought-tolerant.
  • Prune the flowers and stem to the base after the flowers fade. This will direct the plant’s energy to growing leaves and roots to prepare for next year’s magnificent blooms.
  • Give them light. Place them next to your Christmas cactus in a window where they will get at least six hours a day or more.
  • Repot every two years and remember to keep the top two inches of the bulb above the soil line.
  • It will take a bit more effort to encourage reblooming. They need two to three months in a cool dark location with no watering to force the plant into dormancy. This is followed by four to six weeks in a warm spot, where it gets watered when the soil is dry to the touch. If you want the plant to bloom in December, you will need to start this in late July or the beginning of August.

See also:

(Visited 24,102 times, 5 visits today)
You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0