If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
By Ken Johnson
The holiday season is here, which means evergreens, poinsettias, amaryllis, and other holiday plants have arrived in stores. Plants are often at the center of our holiday decorations and traditions and are frequently given as gifts. Whether buying them as gifts or for yourself, following a few tips can help you or the recipient enjoy them throughout the holiday season.
What are widely considered the flowers of poinsettias are bracts (leaves) that look like petals. The greenish-yellow flowers (cyathia) are clustered at the center of the bracts. When selecting poinsettias, pay close attention to the flowers. Look for plants that have flower buds that are closed and contain a green tint. Flowers that are open and producing pollen should be avoided because poinsettias will drop their bracts and leaves soon after flowers shed their pollen.
• Christmas cactus
Most of the ‘Christmas cactuses’ sold are actually Thanksgiving cacti that have had their forced to bloom around Christmas time. Regardless of the type of holiday cacti you purchase, if you want them to bloom around Christmas, look for plants with well-developed buds but no open flowers in late November or early December. Plants that are in full bloom around this time will likely be done blooming by Christmas.
Size is important when it comes to selecting amaryllis bulbs. Larger bulbs will be able to produce more flowers and tend to produce thicker, stronger stems that are less likely to flop. Inspect bulbs to ensure they are firm and don’t have any mold, decay, or signs of injury.
• Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Island pines are widely marketed as living Christmas trees and are commonly adorned with bells and bows. When selecting a plant, look for compact, uniformly green plants with few brown or yellow needles. Make sure to pay close attention, though. They are often spray-painted green or covered in glitter. This can interfere with the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. So, if you want to keep your plant long-term, avoid painted plants, or be prepared to remove as much paint as possible.
• Transporting holiday houseplants
Many of the holiday plants we grow are of tropical origin, and exposure to cold conditions can damage or even kill plants if exposed for too long. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent damage to your newly purchased plants:
Make purchasing your plants your last stop to avoid leaving plants in a vehicle with no heat.
If possible, avoid purchasing plants on particularly cold or windy days to reduce their chances of being damaged.
Insulate your plants the best you can. Call the store beforehand to see if they have material you can use to insulate your plants, like paper; if they don’t, bring your own.
After purchasing your plants, wrap them in paper and place them in a bag. Double bagging them if possible and keep the top of the bags closed. Paper bags will insulate plants better than plastic bags.
Have your vehicle warmed up before bringing your plants from the store.
Do not put plants in your vehicle’s trunk; it will be colder than in the cab. Also, don’t let the plant’s foliage touch cold windows; this can damage the leaves.
Need information on caring for your holiday plants? Check out the Good Growing blog to learn about growing poinsettias, holiday cacti, amaryllis, and Norfolk Island pines.
Good Growing Tip of the Week: Regardless of the type of plant you select, inspect them carefully to ensure they appear healthy and are free of pests and diseases.