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Extension Advice: Bring in holiday spirit with seasonal plants
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

Somehow the holiday season is already upon us. It seems like yesterday I was cleaning up from last year, I never did get around to putting up my desktop Christmas tree – I guess that’s one less thing for this year!

The holidays are great times. Do not let the hustle and bustle, the commercial hype and shopping interfere with what should be a celebration of our blessedness. This is a time to think of where our blessings come from and a time to be reflective and thankful.

For Thanksgiving, make a list of 10 things you are thankful for. You could perhaps make an A-to-Z list of things you are thankful for. List one thing for every letter that begins with that letter. Spend time being truly and actively thankful for these things.

However, Christmas is right around the corner and the festive plants are coming in now. A little extra care can give you a longer time to enjoy them before they disappear.

 How do I pick a good poinsettia?

We buy poinsettias for their brightly colored leaves or “bracts.” These are not actually the flowers. The flowers are the small yellow things in the center of the bracts. The bracts can come in several colors – red, pink, white and marbled colors.

Select plants that have plenty of leaves and that are not too dry. The bracts should be fully colored without green around the edges. The rest of the leaves should be dark-green and numerous.  Examine plants for insects before you buy them.

If buying early, select plants that have young or unopened flowers. After the flowers open and fall off, the plant may begin to decline. Even after this happens, good care can extend their life somewhat.

Poinsettias like our standard indoor temperature – 65 to 75 degrees in the day and 60 degrees at night. Place them in areas where the plant will get bright light but not direct sun. Do not let the plant get cold. If it is in a window, you may want to move it at night.

Water the plant when the soil gets dry. Water until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Wait until the soil dries to water again. Do not let the plant sit in water for more than an hour or so. Do not let the plant wilt.

I recommend discarding the poinsettias after you have enjoyed them. They can be re-bloomed, but this is difficult to do. Discard them and buy new ones next year.

 What should I do with the spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus) that I receive in pots?

Keep them well watered as mentioned above. As for poinsettias, it is probably best to just discard them after they bloom. Bulbs must replenish their energy after they bloom. This energy can be used for next year’s bloom.

Bulbs growing in pots cannot properly do this. They do not have enough soil to grow in and are limited for light and nutrients. This means the bulbs will be weakened and may not bloom well the next year. In fact, some of these bulbs never bloom well again.

If you want to try growing these in the yard anyway, plant the bulbs outside in the ground. After they bloom, set the pot outside in a somewhat protected spot for a week or two to get the plants used to the cold again. Then water the pot well and gently pull the bulbs out including the root ball.

Plant the bulbs in the ground and water and fertilize them well. Keep them watered well once a week during dry weather. When the leaves die back normally in the spring or summer, you can move the bulbs to a permanent location. Remember that these bulbs may never flower well again.

I received some mums for a gift. I planted them in the ground but they never did well.  Mums come in several types. Some types are not meant to grow well outside. Some varieties are meant to be grown in greenhouses.

Don’t know which kind you have? The easiest thing is to plant the mum and see how it grows. Enjoy the mums that do well but dig up and discard the others. If you want a mum that should grow well outside, visit your local nursery.

Quick plug: the Extension Office is hosting an egg candling class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 27. Call and RSVP if you want or just show up to the Dixie Harns Center in Pembroke.

As always, please contact me at the UGA Extension office either by email at or by phone at 912-653-2231 for any questions you have during this holiday season.

Happy holidays from the staff here at the Extension Office!

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