Keep Holiday Plants Looking Their Best

Poinsettia and other holiday plants should be kept in a cool, brightly lit location.

The holiday season has arrived. That means you will be on the giving or receiving end of a poinsettia, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, amaryllis or other holiday plant. Extend the beauty and longevity of these beauties with proper care.

And that starts the minute you leave the florist or garden center. Always protect your gift plants from the harsh outdoors. Professional florists and garden center staff will provide a care tag and wrap your plants in a plastic or paper sleeve.

Remove the wrap as soon as you arrive home. This is especially important when caring for poinsettias. The upturned leaves emit ethylene, a ripening hormone, that can shorten the longevity of your poinsettia’s colorful display.

Rewrap your holiday plant anytime you move it outdoors and never leave it sitting in a cold car while running errands. A chilled plant looks fine until it thaws. By the next day the plant turns grayish-green, wilts and may die. Not such a nice gift after all.

Once your plant arrives home, place it in a cool, brightly lit location. The cool temperatures and indirect light help the blooms last longer. Avoid drafts of hot and cold air. These can dry or chill the plant, resulting in leaf and blossom drop. Fold down the foil wrap to allow sunlight to reach all the leaves.

Keep the soil moist, like a damp sponge, but not wet. A quick touch of the top inch or two of soil will let you know when it is time to water. Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and just slightly moist.

Pour out any water that collects in the foil, basket, decorative pot or saucer. Or place pebbles in the bottom of the container or saucer to elevate the plant above any sitting water.

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