All I Want for Christmas is a Green Thumb

Dec 19, 2022

Christmas plants such as poinsettias, Christmas cacti, and amaryllis are a symbol of the season. However, chances are, if you bought them right after Thanksgiving, they may be looking a little droopy by now. Perk them up for the last couple weeks of December with these helpful care tips!
         Poinsettias are a Christmastime favorite, but it may surprise you to learn that they are actually tropical plants. In fact, they are native to Mexico, but because they bloom during the winter, they have become associated with the winter holidays.
         Poinsettias require temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit overnight to remain healthy. Avoid sudden changes in temperature by keeping plants away from doors that open and close often or beside windows that may cause a draft. If you must carry them outside, even for a short time, wrap the plant to prevent the cold from injuring its leaves.
         Water your poinsettia only when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. If the leaves begin to wilt, water the plant right away. However, don’t over-water your poinsettia; if the soil becomes soggy, you’ve probably watered too much.
Christmas Cactus
         The recent craze over succulents means that Christmas cacti have become quite popular during the holidays. However, although they are easy to maintain, Christmas cacti still require more water than typical succulents which thrive in hot, arid environments. Christmas cacti are actually native to southern Brazil and typically bloom from November through February.
Christmas cacti prefer daytime temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive best in humid environments, so a bright bathroom or kitchen is often a great spot to place them. Too much direct sunlight can bleach its sensitive leaves, however, so the plant should be kept in indirect light.
         Only water Christmas cacti when the top one-third of the soil feels dry to the touch, likely once every two to three weeks. Soak the soil until water runs through the pot’s drainage holes, making sure a tray is placed underneath the pot to catch the excess.
         Amaryllis flowers naturally bloom between late winter and mid-spring, but they are commonly forced to bloom earlier in winter in time for Christmas. Most amaryllis varieties grown today are actually hybrids that are native to tropical parts of South America. They are oftentimes given as gifts in boxed kits that contain a bulb, a pot, and some soil.
         Amaryllis should be kept away from drafty windows and placed in a room with temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the pot every few days for even lighting and to prevent leaning. If the stalk begins to lean, prop it up against a stake inserted into the soil next to it. Once the flowers bloom, move it to a cooler location out of direct sunlight to ensure the blossoms last longer.
Amaryllis flowers should be watered sparingly, only when the top one to two inches of soil become dry. When watering, avoid getting the exposed portion of the bulb wet, which could cause it to rot.
Whichever plant you decide to adorn your home with this holiday season, keep in mind that it will likely need to be re-potted into a more sustainable container if it is to last through the winter. Visit your local Co-op for a wide variety of pots, household fertilizer, potting soil, tools, and more. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask one of our garden experts.
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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