How to Care for Holiday Flowering Plants

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Your poinsettias, Christmas cacti and other holiday flowering plants will grow better and remain healthier throughout the year when you know how to care for them properly. Get expert tips in this free video on winter garden care.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Garden Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Marci Degman, the aspiring gardener. And today, we're going to talk about caring for holiday flowering plants. A lot of you probably still have a poinsettia. They're actually not a Christmas plant, but what they do is, they take them into the greenhouse and put them through a bunch of things to get them to bloom right at Christmas, so that we can have something red. Of course, there's every color you can think of now. This is probably only a few weeks old, but I want to kind of demonstrate what you would want to save over, and what you wouldn't. And, if you look at this one, kind of look at how it drops the leaves when I touch them. That shouldn't be happening. So, this plant has probably just been through too much, you know, by the time it's been pumped up with fertilizer and in the greenhouse in the store, and then in my house, and I have a really dry environment. So, it's gone through quite a bit. So, I wouldn't try to probably keep this one over. But, what you want to do is, if you have a poinsettia that, after the holidays, is still pretty supple, I could probably do it if you look at the green part. But, mainly I just wanted to kind of talk about it, because I get a lot of questions about that. And, what you're going to do, if you want to keep this plant over for next year, is go ahead and just enjoy it in your house, keep it moist, give it sunlight, not direct sunlight, but a window that allows it to get a little bit of sunlight. Keep it moist, fertilize it once the flowering stops, but not too much. Now, what you want to do is just treat it like a houseplant until summer. Bring it outside, treat it like a houseplant outside, keep it moist. Don't ever let them get really dry. You don't want them to rot, but you don't want them to get dried out completely. In the fall, you want to bring it in the house, and by then you won't have any colored bracts. All you'll have is leaves, and you'll want to trim it back a little bit, so it'll have a nice shape and be bushy. And then the trick is, what you have to do a month before Christmas, is you have to put it in the closet or in a dark place from five o'clock in the evening until like eight o'clock in the morning. Then, you have to put it in a sunny windowsill all day long, and you have to do that every day for thirty days. If it gets any light during the night, your whole system's off, and you have to start over. The tiniest bit of light will throw it off. That's what you have to go through to get it to bloom at Christmas. Once that month is over, you bring it out, water it, and wait. A little bit, do not water it again for a month. Once it's done blooming, start treating it like a houseplant again. And, that's how you keep your poinsettia throughout the year. Now, the more common plant that people keep over are the Christmas cactuses, schlumbergera. And, there's a lot of talk about what's the difference between a Christmas cactus, the Thanksgiving cactus, and an Easter cactus? And usually, what it is, it's the color of the flowers we choose for different seasons, as well as how it is coaxed to bloom when you want it to bloom. So, this one happened to be red, it's getting done. As you can see, there's a few more buds, so I'll still get some more flowers. And, the nice thing about this, is this can just be a houseplant year round. When it's done, I find a nice, indirect window. You don't want to have bright sun, but you want to have constant indirect light. You keep it watered, it's not like cactuses that are in the desert that you barely water. You want it to dry out completely, and then water it. Dry out completely, water it. And then, what you want to do with this is, when it gets to be a month before the holiday that you want it to bloom, you stop watering, stop fertilizing, and allow it to coax some bloom. If you fertilize and water and pamper, it will never flower. So, this is an easier one to try if you're thinking about keeping a holiday plant over. So, that's how you care for your holiday plants after Christmas.

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