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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Caring for Holiday Plants

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had numerous people ask me how to care for the holiday plants they are buying so here is a quick guide:

Poinsettias—Poinsettias will be happiest if set in a fairly bright location.  Water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.  If it is wrapped in foil, it’s best to poke a couple of drainage holes to allow the excess water to drain out.  After the holidays, remove the foil completely. 
Around the middle of March, cut each flower stem back to 8 to 10” to encourage side branches.  Fertilize occasionally.  You can set them outside around the first week of May.  If you are not going to try to bloom it again (it does make a very pretty green plant), bring it in around the middle of October and place in that bright spot.  If you do want to try to bloom it again then around the middle of September, bring it inside and place in a dark closet from 5 at night until 8 in the morning.  During the day, it goes in in a very sunny window.  Continue to do this until the top leaves begin to turn color—usually mid-end November.   At that point you can leave it in that sunny place.

Amaryllis—Keep it in a bright window, turning the pot a quarter turn every few days to keep the flower stems growing straight.  Water when the top inch or two of soil is dry.  Once it has finished blooming, cut off any spent flower stems, leaving about a ½ inch “stump.”  Do not cut back any leaves which might have begun to sprout.  Keep in a sunny window and begin to feed with a good houseplant fertilizer. 
Place the pot outside for the summer around the first of May, remembering to keep watered and fed.  Bring inside the middle to end of October and allow to go bone dry.  Cut off all the leaves and store the bulb in the pot someplace cool, dark, and dry for 8 to 10 weeks.  I check mine after 8 weeks and if I see a bright green bloom shoot starting to poke out, then I bring it out then.  If not, then I leave it 2 more weeks.  You can keep amaryllis for years and years this way and they’ll bloom reliably every year.

Paperwhites—While they are growing, keep them evenly moist and in bright light.  Once they have finished blooming, if they were grown in water and rocks, toss them. The bulbs basically “eat” themselves as they grow so are not worth the trouble to save.  If you have grown them in soil and want to try to save them, then treat pretty much like an amaryllis, though the leaves usually dies back early summer.  With paperwhites being so inexpensive, however, I save the sunny spot that a pot of paperwhites would take up for something else.

Christmas Cactus—A holiday cactus is a true cactus so needs some direct sun.  Place in a bright window and remember to allow to go almost, but not quite, completely dry between waterings.  Fertilize regularly.  I put mine outside the first of May (under a tree in a little dappled sun) and leave it outside until night temperatures are falling below the low forties.  Usually, by the time I bring it back inside, it already has tiny little buds forming.  It’s the combination of the shortening day length and cooler night temperatures which contribute to bud formation.  When you bring it back inside, put it back in that sunny window.
Cyclamen—With their pretty variegated heart-shaped foliage and sweet nodding flowers, cyclamen are beautiful plants this time of year.  To keep it looking good as long as possible, keep in a bright spot—avoiding hot mid-day sun.  Be sure to keep away from heating vents as they like it a bit on the cool side.  Water only when the top inch of soil is dry and be sure when you water, not to water directing in the crown of the plant. 
A cyclamen is a tuber, therefore a couple of months after it finishes blooming, it wants to go to “sleep’.  If you choose to keep the plant and want to bloom it again, then allow it to grow until mid-end April, then gradually begin to let it get dryer between waterings until the foliage begins to look “tired”.  At that point, let it go completely dry, remove the dead leaves and store it in the back of the closet for two and a half months.  Around the end of August or first of September, you can bring it out and water it and let it grow again, feeding occasionally.  Keeping it in a window, right next to the glass where it gets cool at night, can help with bud formation.

Remember, when you move any plant outside for the summer, get them accustomed to outdoor sunlight gradually so as not to sunburn the foliage
Posted: 12/5/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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