How to Care For Your Indoor Christmas Plants

Having fresh flowers on your holiday table, fireplace mantel and throughout your home is a great way to warm up your home on a chilly winter’s eve. Here’s how to make those beautiful blooms last through the festive season.

Paper whites
It’s pretty easy to force paper white bulbs so that they blossom in time for your houseful of guests. If you buy them in a kit, these sweet-smelling flowers will bloom in about three weeks. They require a sunny but cool spot in order to thrive, and you’ll need to stake their stems once they blossom, so that the plant doesn’t fall over. Keep the soil nice and moist.

Christmas cactus
This popular, hardy winter-blooming houseplant is a real showstopper. It can last for years, and will produce more vibrant blooms if it’s watered frequently and exposed to bright, indirect light. Luckily, these plants are not only easy to maintain, but they also propogate with little effort, which makes them ideal for holiday gift giving! To plant, snip a short, y-shaped bit from the tip of the stem of a healthy plant, and place it partway into soil that’s slightly sandy. Keep it moist. To make new plants, cut back shoots from the tips and you’ll see signs of growth in a couple of weeks. When your Christmas cactus has stopped blossoming, water less frequently and keep it in a cool, dark place for 12 hours a day. After its dormant period, take it outside for several weeks in early fall, and your plant will reward you with additional flowering cycles!

Amaryllis
Loved for their showy, exotic blossoms that last for up to six weeks, these plants crave bright light, otherwise they tend to flop over! To make sure your amaryllis grows tall and straight, turn the pot around every couple of days, making sure to keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Amaryllis will re-bloom after being dormant, so once the flowers are spent, cut down the stalk, leaving the foliage to provide nutrients for the bulb. Once warm spring weather arrives, you can place the plant outside in the shade. By early fall, you can move it into a dark spot, cut off its yellowed leaves and don’t water it until November. Then you’ll see gorgeous flowers once again!

Poinsettia
Do your plants wither on the way home from the garden center? Make sure you’re picking one that’s healthy, with small yellow flowers in the center of its leaves. If you notice the plant is shedding pollen, leave it on the shelf. And cover it when you transport it home, taking care not to leave it in your car if temperatures are below 20 degrees. Don’t overwater it and check out these other ways to save poinsettias so they’ll continue to bloom for you.

Cyclamen
In the right conditions, this plant can blossom for more than eight weeks, which makes it a terrific winter-season choice. Cyclamens need diffused light away from drafts, and you’ll want to deadhead withered flowers and yellowed leaves. When you water it, place your plant on a saucer and let it absorb water for about 20 minutes. Don’t water it from the top. Since cyclamens rarely bloom again, enjoy it while you can right now!

PHOTO CREDIT INFORMATION:

Pink Christmas cactus
Photo Credit: blumenbiene Flickr via Compfight cc

Paper whites
Photo Credit: Claricethebakergardener Flickr via Compfight cc

Amaryllis
Photo Credit: KathyKnorr – Santa Fe – New Mexico Flickr via Compfight cc

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