Thursday, December 17, 2015

Easy Christmas Houseplant Tips



As you go about your Christmas shopping errands, you may get “bit” by a bit of nostalgia. Stores are loaded with the infamous Christmas Advent Calendars, yes you know the ones I mean, the ones with the little chocolate behind a secret door. You may also be reminded by the books of lifesavers and Quality Street Chocolates, all of which are considered our yummy favorites!

                                           
                                                                           





Christmas time reminders are everywhere! As we go about our shopping, much to our delight we find stores loaded with gorgeous Christmas houseplants too.




One that I’m sure you know and may even have as a center piece in your own home. Pictured left is a beautiful white Poinsetta that my dad picked up for my mom a few weeks ago. This definitely earned him some "brownie points" as it is a gorgeous plant and a very thoughtful gift!
There are many other beautiful Christmas plants that you can choose from as well that make a stunning display this time of year and will even last beyond the holidays with the proper care and its so easy.

But…how do you keep these plants looking just like they did at the store when you bought them?  I will share the tips that have worked for myself as well as my family over the years. In one of my blogs I had mentioned one of my grandmothers that had come to Vesey's for a visit as well as how she succeeds with saving her geraniums . I do have another picture to share with you that I just took the other day while visiting her. There standing in front of her patio door was a beautiful Poinsetta full of bloom and enjoying the sunlight of her very own apartment.  She indicated that this was a plant that she kept from last year.  I tell you, it looked just as if it was a fresh one that was just purchased at a flower shop.  You can have this kind of success too and as I mentioned, its very easy to do.


                                                    

The best general care and advice I can offer applies for pretty much all holiday indoor houseplants with a few added tips that are best for each individual one if there are different cultural requirements. Flowering houseplants will generally thrive in a room temperature of 15 degrees.  Some plants such as Christmas Cactus and Poinsetta tend to like it a few degrees warmer but the key component in plant health is to keep it consistent. Placing these heat loving beauties in a warm sunny location such as your kitchen table or counter where there may be lots of light would be ideal. One of the main reasons why we purchase these plants is so that we can display them for everyone to enjoy.  If you do place them near a window or on a ledge, keep in mind, especially at night time, there could be a draft and a temporary location may be necessary during this time.

We always love to keep our homes cozy, especially during the holidays. Lit fireplaces or blown in heat from fans or rads will give you that extra warmth but also may make the plants too warm if placed nearby. When placing plants in these locations keep in mind that temperatures may either get to warm or soil could potentially dry out faster.  The first sign that the plant may struggle in these locations is wilting leaves.  Before watering check the soil for moisture as wilting leaves can sometimes be the sign of over watering as well. I have always found that I had best results setting the plants into a saucer of water.  This will enable the plant to soak up moisture at the root which is where it is most important for continued plant growth and health. Leaving the plant in standing water for too long is not advised and any excessive amount of water that didn't soak up is recommended to drain off. Overhead watering is fine as well, however be mindful that you don’t give it too much and try to avoid getting too much water on the leaves.  If foliage is wet too often it can make it easier for diseases to set in. Flowering plants will also benefit from some food and by doing this, it will encourage an even better display of blooms.  A regular fertilizing regime consists of a water soluble all purpose houseplant solution to be applied every 10 days.  This can continue right up until it is done blooming.


It is also recommended that when you receive these plants to remove the foil that surrounds the pot. I know that this makes the pot look more decorative but it actually keeps the moisture in too much. It also will lessen air circulation for the roots eventually resulting in root rot. You can choose to set the plant in another container but be sure it has holes for proper drainage and adequate air circulation. Many of these plants such as Christmas Cactus and Poinsettas can stay active and bloom for a month or more. This picture below was taken at my mom and dad's place and is putting on a stunning show with its brilliant colour. It's a Christmas Cactus.


                                                      

A few other plants that come to mind when I think of this time of year is the Cyclamen and Kalanchoe.  These plants are found over a wide range of different stores and make a nice addition to your home really at any time of the year.  These plants both have similar type of leaves, blooms and care requirements, and can sometimes be a challenge to keep a bloom.  

                                                           

                                                          

These plants can also be prone to a fungal disease known as Botrytis. The best care I can offer for these types of plants that has worked for me are to choose a brightly lit location that is away from direct sunlight and heat sources.  You can completely remove spent flowers with the stem  intact right from the base of the plant on a Cyclamen, and on the Kalanchoe you can simply just snip the bloom off the main stem when it is spent. By picking off old blooms it will encourage it to set new blooms as well as continue to flower longer. After these plants have finished their flowering and have started into dormancy you can continue to water and fertilize until all leaves turn yellow.  Reduce watering when the plant becomes dormant during the summer months and you can even set them outside in a part sun location.  I found my Cyclamen did quite well with this. Kalanchoe will continue to hold its leaves and will stay green but may stop flowering for a period of time.  As new growth appears on both of these, you can re-pot as well as freshen up the potting soil and start a regular watering/fertilizing regime.

Along with these beautiful potted plants there is also the ever popular Amaryllis that I had mentioned in a previous blog.  I have a few of these on my list to give as Christmas gifts.  You can purchase these ahead of time and have as a beautiful Christmas bloom through-out the holiday season as well.  I know that my other grandmother who is 96, that I am also blessed to spend time with, loves the results of these bulbs and can grow them so easy right in her own home.

                                                     


Along with the Amaryllis bulb, there are other types of bulbs that you can force as well, one in particular is called paperwhite narcissus which is a type of daffodil that is meant for forcing indoors.  These bulbs also make a beautiful display and are so easy to grow. Most stores offer these as potted plants already started if you choose to enjoy them that way also. Care for any of these types of bulbs can be found on our website under our online growing guide.  You may also want to check out some of our Holiday Gifts 2015 or some handy tools for your garden buddy to give now or any time of the year!

Until the next time...stay cozy, keep those shopping lists checked off but most importantly...take time to put your feet up and smell the flowers!

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