Live plants make a wonderful holiday gift. They remind us of the gift of life given so long ago. Today I want to talk about some best management practices for your indoor plants this holiday season.
Here are a few hints to keep holiday plants happier and healthier. These were put together by extension specialists from the UGA Horticulture Department:
· Most flowering plants require bright indirect light. Do not put them in direct sun since this may wilt and fade the flowers. Turn plants weekly to keep them from leaning toward the light. In rooms with poor light, place plants within 12 to 18 inches of a fluorescent light.
· Keep plants out of drafts from heaters, fans, windows, etc. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Let the soil surface dry slightly between waterings. Do not let the pot sit in water for longer than 30 minutes.
· Always use enough water to completely soak the root ball. Water should run out the bottom of the pot at each watering. Plants with flowers and larger leaves will require water more often.
· Remove faded flowers and leaves to make the plant more attractive and to keep the plant from producing seed.
Ideal growing temperatures are found in most houses. Strive for 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night unless otherwise noted.
Plants too near windows may be injured by the cold. Your gift plant was probably raised in a greenhouse. You will not be able to mimic these conditions.
The poinsettia is the most popular Christmas plant. There are red, pink, white and marbled varieties. They are grown for their colorful bracts (modified leaves) and not for their flowers, which are the small yellow things in the center of the bracts. Select plants in which these flowers have not opened yet for longest life.
Maintain a daytime temperature of 65 to 70 degrees fahrenheit and reduce this to low 60s at night. Put the poinsettia in bright light but never in full sun. Select areas where the plant will not dry out. If placed in a window, remove it at night so it will not get too cold.
Let the soil surface dry slightly between waterings and then water until it runs out of the bottom of the pot. Poinsettias are very sensitive to environment. Drafts, cold, heat, dim light, low humidity or improper watering may cause them to wilt or shed leaves and flowers.
Amaryllis require bright light, cool conditions and moist soils like other flowering plants. Bulbs bloom four to six weeks after planting. Individual flowers last three to four days but a plant may have two flower stalks with three to four flowers per stalk.
To re-bloom them, let the leaves grow normally in a well-lit warm location. Put them outside in the spring and summer. Fertilize and water as needed.
Once leaves begin to die back, slow and eventually stop watering. Store the bulb in a cool dry place for four to eight weeks before beginning growth again by watering.
Holiday cactus come in three types, which bloom at different times of the year. They flower at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. All three require bright light and moderate moisture levels. South facing windows are good places for holiday cacti.
After it blooms, remove faded flowers and fertilize. They can be grown outside in spring and summer in shady locations. Stem pieces of three segments or more root easily. They flower based on day length so should bloom at the same time every year.
For more information on holiday plants, call the Bryan County Extension Office at 912-653-2231, stop by or email us at email@example.com. Happy Holidays from myself and the Bryan County Extension Office!