As I saw all the wonderful displays of poinsettias and other Christmas flowers on display at my local grocery store and many other stores, I wondered what would become of them all in the New Year. Right now they looked so beautiful with their reds and even white flowers, all wrapped in beautiful tinsel paper and bows.
I will often see them in the garbage approximately mid-January and some will hang on until February but not look their best and they end up tossed outside along with the Christmas tree.
So, after doing some research and talking to a friend of mine that works in the greenhouses nonstop at this time of year producing these gorgeous Christmas plants, I got many tips on how to keep them alive until next year or basically all year round.
It actually is not too hard, you do need to dedicate a bit of time, but you can have some pretty nice looking green houseplants while waiting for them to pop back into action for the holidays next season and many more to come. It is fun to try.
Here are a few tips if you are up for it. It is as least worth a try.
Step 1 – Poinsettias hate drafty conditions. You don’t want to have them near any outside doors or entranceways. As nice as they are to be seen as soon as you walk in, they will drop their leaves quickly and not look so good with that cold draft.
If you have a display of these gorgeous plants, then you need to set them up where they will not get any drafts, especially the cold outside air drafts that will arrive with the door flapping open and closed when guests arrive.
Step 2 – Do not over water. Feel the surface of the soil and if it is dry then give them some water a bit at a time, do not flood them. You don’t want them sitting in water. If you think you gave them too much, then remove them from the pot if you can and drain in the sink.
Many people will water house plants until water comes out the bottom onto the drip tray, but for these Christmas flowers, you don’t do that as that is too much water. Simply give them a little drink when the soil surface is getting dry to the touch.
Step 3 – Lots of Direct Sunlight in the Winter – Place your plant or plants near a South, east or west window where they are likely to get direct light. Make sure it is a window that can be fully opened of blinds or curtains.
These plants love the direct sunlight at this time of year. Keep them away from the heating vents as this creates drafts and can dry them out too quickly. Many people like to set them up as a display, so consider setting up a display near a bright window for during the day so that you don’t have to keep moving them around.
Step 4 – Take off their Christmas jackets (wrapping and ribbon and bows) after the holidays are over, and they can now be considered a typical house plant. You really don’t want them looking like holiday decor in the middle of May. Continue watering only when the soil surface is dry.
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Approximately May, take scissors to your plant and cut off at least 4 inches from each stem or branch. This will be a welcome chore as they will have started to look a little leggy by now. This also will create a much thicker plant for the next season.
This is also a good time to add a bit of houseplant fertilizer to help keep them healthy and promote growth.
Step 5 – Get Them Outside for Fun in the Sun – Find a nice spot on your patio or under a tree where they will get a good amount of morning sun but not the hot afternoon sun. They don’t like that really hot direct sun late in the afternoon. The morning sun is best.
Continue to water as needed (when the soil surface becomes dry) if your poinsettia is happy it will start to sprout some new stems. At this point it wouldn’t hurt to cut off another inch from the original stems.
Step 6 – Fertilize monthly. Only fertilize when the soil is moist, after some water or you could run the risk of burning the delicate roots, so be careful not to overdo the fertilizer.
Step 7 – Watch out for Aphids – As with any plant that enjoys the outdoors on your patio, aphids just seem to find them. Watch for them on the under part of the leaves, inspect them regularly, maybe while watering them.
If you find you have them and there are too many to simply pick off the plant, then try this natural mixture in a spray bottle. Few drops of dish soap in water and spray. This actually works quite well on most plants.
Step 8 – Getting Those Red Blooms – Now comes the fun part. During the summer those poinsettias were enjoying themselves on your patio with your other plants, well now it is their turn to shine once again.
Don’t let them stay outside once the temperature gets to below 65 degrees F, or you run the risk of the leaves falling off. So, give them one last check for insects and then bring them in the house.
Step 9 – Dark Nights – This is where the work begins. Your Christmas plants will now need to rest in complete darkness for at least 12 – 14 hours. So you need to either place them in room where you can leave the door closed and the window blinds down with no turning off or on the lights, it has to be complete darkness.
If you don’t have a room that will get that dark, then find a cardboard box that will gently fit over the entire plant to keep them in darkness, from approximately 5pm to 7 or 8am the next day.
Step 10 – Bright Days – Return them to the main room to absorb the light until 5pm or take off the box cover. You do this for approximately 8 weeks. This is the hardest part, but you will get into the habit. Once you see the red blooms you can keep them in your room for the holiday season.
Repeat again for next season!