How to Care for Your Christmas Plants

How to Care for Your Christmas Plants

How to Care for Your Christmas Plants

Christmas plants are the best way to get the desired colors everyone is looking for over the holiday season, especially inside the house. It is important to remember, however, that these plants require different kinds of growing conditions.

It doesn’t matter where you buy your Christmas plants, but it does matter how you handle the plants that you purchase. You can’t take them from a heated store out into the cold and put them into a cold car. These are all tropical plants, and they require temperatures of 65° or more.

If you’re going to buy a plant, buy it at the end of your day when you’re heading home. It is best to wrap it in a bag, but nowadays with no plastic bags in the stores, remember to take your reusable bags with you and put the plant inside the bag to get it out to your car.

You have a variety of plants to choose from at Christmas. Let’s start with the Cyclamen, which is actually a corm, a bulb that sits at the surface of the soil. That’s where it grows from, so it’s very important never to water a cyclamen from up above or pouring water down it through the leaves. You should put it in a bowl or saucer of water for fifteen to twenty-five minutes and let it soak up as much water as it wants. Then, take it out and let the excess drain off, put it back into its decorative cover, and put it back on your table.

Cyclamen can last for years and years, blooming off and on throughout the whole year, if you treat them kindly. They don’t need a lot of care, and much like a Christmas Cactus, they can be kept in a cooler room. It is one of those plants that don’t need it quite so hot. If you have a cooler spot, then this might be a plant that you want to choose. Cyclamen come in pinks, whites, and reds, and the foliage is really pretty, especially the variegated varieties.

Another popular plant for this season is Christmas Cactus, of which there are several varieties. They come in hot pink, orange, salmon, a nearly true red with a little pink in it, white, and on rare occasions, you might even find yellow. They like bright light and cooler temperatures, so if you have a windowsill with a wide ledge where you want to put a plant, then Christmas Cactus will be more than happy there. They like it between 65° and 70°.

One of the most important things about Christmas Cactus is not to overwater. If you overwater these plants, you’ll get big limbs that just, all of a sudden, fall off. That is a really good sign that it’s suffering from root rot and that you’ve watered it too much. You should always let the top two inches of the soil dry out completely between waterings, and how long that takes is going to be differ based on how your house is heated. For example, with electric heat, the water in the soil will last longer than if you have wood heat. You just have to check them a couple of times a week to see if they need water or not.

A neat little side note about Christmas Cactus: because the sun is lower in the sky in the winter, if they’re in a window, your plants are going to lean towards the window. They will always lean towards the light, and if you rotate your plants every day or every couple of days, Christmas Cactus can actually drop all their buds because they’re bending in two different directions. If you have Christmas Cactus and they’re in bud, you might find that the side that is touching the window is going to develop buds quicker than the plants inside, in the heat of the room. Don’t turn it around; the other side will eventually come into flower too.

The last three or four years at Blomidon, we have carried a plant called Frosty Fern. This is a true fern with bright green fronds, but the tips of the leaves look a little bit like they’ve been hit by frost, as they are a lighter green, and they’re kind of unusual looking. These plants are a little different as they don’t like to ever dry out. It’s a plant that likes moisture, so if you have a super-dry house, this is not the plant for you. For this one, you want to keep the soil at a constant moisture level, so you might have to look at it twice a week to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Misting the Frosty Fern will also help this plant thrive. Also, make sure it is not exposed to temperatures below 50°.

Norfolk Island Pines are tropical plants that you can get all year long. They’re sold at Christmas time here because they make cute little indoor Christmas trees when they’re decorated. They like bright but not direct light, and they should be rotated weekly so it doesn’t grow lopsided. The soil can dry out one or two inches from the surface in between waterings. It loves to be misted and should be kept away from drafts as much as possible.

Poinsettias hate cold and hot drafts. Let the top 2″ of soil dry out in between watering. Never let them sit in water in their decorative pot liner that has no drainage. Bright light is best. Maintain them at a temperature of 60° or higher.

All of these plants can last for years, including Poinsettias. They may get a little woody, but I know people that have had them for years. Christmas is not their natural time to produce the red bracts or white bracts, but by controlling their light supply, they can be manipulated to bloom when you choose.

Why not stop in at Blomidon Nurseries to see our stock of Christmas plants and question our knowledgeable staff about how to keep them flourishing for years to come.

Merry Christmas to all!