Holiday Plants – Keep or Toss?

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get your house back in order. But what about the holiday plants that you bought or were given to you as gifts. These can make a nice addition to your home in winter. Some can even become permanent fixtures in your home. You’ll just have to decide which holiday plants are worth keeping and which to let go.

Holiday plants such as poinsettia, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, cyclamen, kalanchoe and bulbs will continue to grow best in a brightly lit room with air temperatures on the cool side (60 to 68 degrees F). Keep the soil barely moist. The most common cause of death for these plants is over-watering.

The next step, after the plants start looking a little ragged, is to decide which ones you will keep. Flowering bulbs, such as paperwhite narcissus, hyacinths, and tulips probably will not bloom again, even if planted outdoors in spring, although I have had some success with hyacinths. These are best composted when they finish blooming. Poinsettias will hold their colorful bracts for months. But once the leaves and bracts drop, getting them to color up again in fall is an involved process, so they too are best composted. Cyclamen start getting tired and the leaves begin to yellow and die. At this point, the plant will begin to go into a dormant state. If you keep it cool and don’t over-water, there is a good chance that you will see new growth in September/October. Kalanchoe makes an adorable houseplant, but getting it to re-bloom can be difficult. If you’re happy with just the succulent leaves and don’t care whether the plant re-flowers, you could keep it as a permanent addition in your home.

The two easiest holiday plants to keep are Christmas cactus and amaryllis. Christmas cactus will re-bloom fairly easily next fall and winter provided they have cool temperatures and a dark room at night in autumn. In fact, many are passed down from generation to generation. Amaryllis will need to be grown outdoors in summer and allowed to go dormant in fall. But you should be able to coax more flowers from the bulbs next winter.

So be honest with yourself about which holiday plants you want to keep and remember there will always be plenty to choose from next year.

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