After the Holidays
We are a "throw-away" society and, we tend to dispose of our holiday plants just as easily as we dispose of the Christmas wrapping paper.
One reason for this is because the plants we love for the holidays are so easy to obtain before the season and reasonable in price. Why bother to keep them and maintain them for a full year before using them again.
But most of these plants are capable of giving you pleasure long after the holiday lights are taken down.
How to get a poinsettia to re-bloom
Poinsettias are difficult to get to re-bloom, but it can be done.
Winter: After the Christmas season the plant may begin to dry and curl. Prune off the colorful bracts when they do, but at least by early February. Place it in a cool dark area - but not where it will freeze - until spring. Do not fertilize it during this period.
Spring and Summer: When the weather warms up cut back to about six inches and place in a nice warm, sunny location outdoors.
If the roots begin to show, you can repot the plant into a next larger size pot. You can fertilize every two weeks and water regularly using the wet to dry method - water thoroughly, pouring off the excess water, then let the plant dry completely before watering again.
In the fall, poinsettias will start to prepare themselves for another blooming season. Bring the plant indoors before the nighttime temperatures drop to 50 degrees. The poinsettias are prepared to bloom by the shorter day lengths in the fall. So after the 15th of October be sure the plant receives complete darkness from sundown to sunup. It should get 14 hours of complete darkness every day. Even the security lights of the house or streetlights may interrupt this natural schedule. But it should get bright light during the day, so don't just stick it in the closet and leave it there.
New colorful bracts should form by the end of this time. When the color shows, end the dark treatment and give the poinsettia the same lighting as other houseplants.
How to get a cactus to re-bloom
Winter, Spring, and Summer:
This is a great houseplant, although you may choose to summer it outdoors.
Since this is a succulent watering should be on the dry side. Water the plant and then let it go dry. The soil should have good proportions of sand. Clay pots are ideal, though many are sold in plastic.
For good spring and summer growth the cactus should have at least two hours of direct sunlight each day. If you live in the south, then a bright filtered light or light shade is better than full sun all day.
Fertilize once a week in the spring and summer with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous (the middle number of the rating). Do not fertilize if there are buds present.
This cactus will bloom better if it is pot bound, so don't feel the need to repot it.
Both the daylight period and temperature affect flowering. Buds will appear when the night-time temperature goes below 60 degrees and the daylight is less than 12 hours. So you will encourage blooming if you leave this plant outdoors as long as the nighttime temperatures don't dip below 40 degrees.
Buds will drop if the temperatures get too high. They will also drop in drafts. Sometimes there will be more buds if the plant is kept dry from October to early November.
Once the plant has bloomed removed the faded flowers, this will promote branching and move flowers.
How to get an amaryllis to re-bloom
After you have force bloomed it for Christmas let the bloom normally die back then cut the stem(s) near the top of the bulb. Do not water and let the bulb go dormant. Store in a cool dry place at 55-65 degrees F.
Spring and Summer:
In the spring move the pot outdoors or plant in your garden. Water and fertilize with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (that's the middle number of the fertilizer code). Leaving it outdoors will enhance the bulb growth.
To try to get them started again, pull it out of the pot by, say, Labor Day. If there are any baby bulbs, cut them off and use them separately.
Count back from when you would like to see the bloom - about 6-8 weeks. Mid-October would be good. Plant the bulb in a six inch or eight inch pot with the shoulder of the bulb above the soil level. Place in good bright light but not full sun. Water thoroughly initially then sparingly until growth begins. Allow the pot to dry slightly between watering. By doing this the root system will be stimulated. Using a clay pot will anchor and stabilize the often top-heavy growth.
Paper whites generally do not re-bloom. You can try planting them in the flowerbed - but do not be disappointed if they do not produce future blooms. The bulb has "spent" itself on the initial forcing, which takes a lot of energy.
Norfolk Island Pine
This plant is usually grown as a small houseplant. For the holidays it is sold with little red holiday bows making it a very festive centerpiece.
The Norfolk Island Pine requires bright indirect light. For good color two hours of direct sunlight is best. But other than that try to avoid full sun - in low light it will shed its needles. Indoors rotate the plant to promote symmetrical growth. As in all houseplants, avoid drafts.
If indoors, when the soil feels dry, water. Then let the soil go dry again before your next watering.
It can be summered out nicely and will grow outdoors year round in the tropical zones.
Fertilizing can be on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, cutting back during the fall and winter.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, the Christmas Kalanchoe, which has a scarlet flower, can be made to bloom during the holidays by shortening the length of day in September by giving them complete darkness from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Do this until October 1. The buds will form under these conditions and flowering will be in time for the holidays.
After the holidays this is a great houseplant, which can be summered outdoors.
It needs little care. Do not over water. The Kalanchoe likes it a little dry. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, you are probably over watering. Potting soil should be on the dry and sandy side, well drained, similar to a commercial cactus mix.
Cyclamen - florists delight
This is called a florist's cyclamen because it has been grown especially in a greenhouse and forced for the holidays.
After the holidays this is a perfect houseplant if you can find a cool enough spot for it. It likes temperatures below 65 degrees in the daytime and between 50 and 55 at night.
This plant can take bright light all day with one to two hours of full sun.
The cyclamen likes high humidity and water from below so setting it in a wet tray of gravel is ideal but do not let it sit in water.
When the dormant period starts (March to May) store the plant in a cool, dark room moistening the soil every two weeks. In August, repot the tuber in fresh soil so that the top half of the tubers sit above the soil Then begin regular watering.
Not an easy plant to get to re-bloom, but beautifully delicate.
After the holidays keep this plant inside until spring. It must have direct sun four or five hours a day. A cool room is best. It may need increased humidity so use a pebble tray with water.
You may fertilize every two weeks - repot one size up when pot bound.
Replanting outside is ideal. It needs alkaline, poor to moderately fertile soil and full sun, four or five hours a day. It is salt tolerant.