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What to do with holiday plants

A poinsettia

Does your Christmas cactus never bloom? Wondering what to do with a poinsettia after Christmas?

Here are some tips from PennState Extension:

Plants that are easy to flower again

Christmas cactus

It requires cooler temperatures and needs to be watered less often in the fall for buds to develop. Once flower buds have formed, temperature and watering should be increased. After the plant stops blooming, keep it in a cool, sunny location out of direct light.

In summer, put it outside in light shade and leave it there as long as possible into the fall to promote new shoots. If you need to bring the plant inside before outdoor temperatures decrease in the fall, leave it in a cool, light area in the basement.

Place it in a bright location as soon as buds are noticeable.

If buds start to drop, it could be because: (1) the plant may need repotting; (2) the amount of light may be too low; or (3) the temperature may be too high. The Christmas cactus doesn’t flower well above 70ºF.

Poinsettia

These plants are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, improper watering, and low light. It will take a lot of care for them to remain in good condition for a long period of time.

Place plants in a warm, sunny window, water often to keep the potting mix from drying out completely, and mist the leaves frequently. Temperatures below 55° or above 75ºF aren’t good for the poinsettia. Poinsettias also require an application of a complete soluble fertilizer to keep them in top condition.

After the plant is done flowering and its leaves have fallen, prune it back to 3 to 5 inches. Then, store it in a cool, 55 to 59º, well ventilated place until May and water less frequently. However, don’t let it dry out in storage.

Repot the poinsettia, move it to a warmer location in the home, and increase watering. When night temperatures are above 60ºF, move it outside into light shade. Pinch back each shoot once during the summer to get a well-shaped plant.

When night temperatures begin to cool in late August, bring the plant inside to a warm, sunny window. Day temperatures should be between 70 and 75º and night temperatures should be no higher than 60 to 62º. The plant should be fertilized every 7 to 10 days with a solution made by dissolving ½ teaspoon of a complete soluble fertilizer such as 15-15-15 in a quart of warm water.

Plants to be discarded after they flower

Many plants that should be kept for only one blooming season are available during the holidays. They’re either annuals or they can’t adapt to growing conditions in the home.

Jerusalem cherry and Christmas pepper are offered for sale when the fruit is ripe. To make them last as long as possible, keep them in a night temperature of 55ºF and place them in full sun during the day. Don’t let the potting mix dry out. Misting the leaves and fruit every morning can prevent fruit drop.

Primrose, calceolaria, and cineraria should have the same conditions in the home.

Buy plants that have open flowers and buds. To get full color in the buds as they develop, the plant need to be in full sun and have plenty of water. A cool temperature of 50ºF at night is also preferred. Keep the faded flowers picked off. Since these plants are annuals, they should be discarded after blooming.

The Christmas begonia will last for several months if it’s purchased with a large number of buds. The best location for it in the home is a cool, sunny window, avoiding temperatures above 70ºF. If the plant gets dry, the life of the flowers will be shortened.

This plant is almost impossible to grow in the home; so, it should be treated as an annual and discarded when it’s done blooming.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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