Flowering and foliage plants make wonderful gifts during the holiday season. How long they remain attractive may be directly related to the care they are given after the holidays.
As with all houseplants, proper watering is critical. Large plants in small containers dry out quickly. Also the relative humidity indoors tends to be quite low during winter, which increases drying out. Under these conditions, plants need to be checked daily. Overwatering can be just as detrimental as underwatering. Potted plants should not be watered until the soil is nearly dry to the touch. Holiday gift plants are often packaged in waterproof containers or wrapped in foil. When possible, remove these coverings or punch holes to allow for proper drainage. Supplying adequate light also is important for extending the life of holiday and gift plants. Here are some particular considerations for popular holiday plants.
HOLIDAY OR CHRISTMAS CACTUS: There are three types that bloom at different times of the year. All require bright sunlight and moderate moisture levels. South facing windows are excellent locations for this plant. After flowering remove the spent flowers and apply fertilizer.
POINSETTIA: the colorful bracts of poinsettias may stay bright for months if you care for them properly. Bright, indirect light and frequent watering are essential. Do not allow the plants to wilt; however watering too much can damage the roots. These plants can be reflowered, but the procedure is somewhat demanding. To accomplish this, keep the plant indoors until the danger of frost has passed, then move it outdoors. Remove the bracts when they wither and discolor. Keep the plant in high indirect light (morning sun/afternoon shade). Water and fertilize often. Shape the plant as desired (prune or pinch stems to encourage branching). Bring the plant back indoors when evening temperatures start to fall below 60. Beginning Oct. 1 give the plants 14 hours of continuous darkness daily, and maximum light for the remaining 10 hours.
It may be simple or complex, but by following these few tips maybe you can enjoy your gift plants long after the Christmas bills are paid.
UGA Extension is offering Garden Academy in 2015. Garden Academy is taught in the evening, thus allowing gardeners with full-time jobs to learn more about their hobby while continuing their careers. It is planned for Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. beginning Jan. 22 through Feb. 26. Classes will be taught in the Extension Office Multipurpose Room in the Government Building (old renovated courthouse) in downtown Perry. The class fee of $95 provides specialized speakers on such topics as site analysis, landscape design, hardscaping, water features, trees, woody ornamentals, composting, propagation, turfgrass and more. Participants also will receive a large binder of materials as well as related hands-on workshops.
The class is limited, so register before Jan. 7. Contact the Houston County Extension Office at 478-987-2028 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form.
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston/ for more news about your local Extension office.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Dec. 25-Jan. 1: Extension office closed for Christmas holiday
Jan. 6-8: Beltwide Cotton Conference, New Orleans, LA
Jan. 15: Georgia Peanut Farm Show, Tifton
Jan. 19: Extension Office closed, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Jan. 22-Feb. 26: Garden Academy, Perry
Source: http://extension.uga.edu/ Christmas Plants to Grow All Year Long: Poinsettias, Christmas Cacti and live Christmas Trees; Cornelius A. Tarver