Caring For Holiday Gift Plants

December 18, 2016 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Most plants given for holiday gifts – poinsettias, Christmas cactuses, kalanchoes, cypresses, and others – originate in tropical regions and cannot tolerate our cold winter temperatures, even for a few minutes. 

      Special care must be taken in transporting these tender plants outdoors.  Protect them with as many layers of paper, plastic, towels or blankets as possible.  In a pinch, sacrifice the scarf or hat off your own head!  When giving or receiving a tender plant, warm up the car and move it as close to the door as possible before rushing the plant through the cold air.  When shopping, be sure to schedule the store where you will purchase gift plants as your last stop.

      When you arrive home, check the potting soil and water the plant immediately if the soil is not moist.  Slip the pot out of the pretty foil that surrounds it and let it drain before replacing the foil.  You can keep the foil around the pot until Christmas, but then it should be removed and the pot inside should be placed on a saucer for drainage.  Allowing the plants to sit in standing water invites root rot.

      Inspect the plant, including the undersides of the leaves and the stem to be sure no greenhouse pests have been relocated to your home.  Look carefully, especially at poinsettias, to see if tiny little whiteflies are flying around the plant.  Most pests can be removed with just water using your kitchen sprayer or the bathroom shower.

      If the pot feels unusually light, the plant is root bound and it should be transplanted to a larger pot with a good potting mix.

      In general, houseplants and gift plants should be kept in a warm location near a south or west facing window.  Poinsettias do best in indirect sunlight, but Norfolk Island pines and Christmas cactuses can be placed right in the sunshine.

      The challenge in growing Norfolk Island pines is lack of humidity indoors.  They thrive at 50% humidity, but most homes have much lower indoor humidity in winter.  A humidifier or daily misting will keep the plant much happier.

      It is normal for a few needles on lower branches to turn brown and drop.  If it becomes widespread, the problem may be too much or too little water, too hot or too cold temperature or too low humidity.

      Make sure plants are not near a furnace register, radiator, fireplace or other heat generating appliance and move them away from the window if it gets cold in the area at night.  The key is to prevent rapid temperature fluctuations. 

      Plants should be watered as soon as the soil is dry to the touch.

      Give the plants a quarter-turn occasionally to keep them growing straight.  There is no need to fertilize in winter, but during the warmer months, they can be fertilized with houseplant fertilizer.

 

Houseplants


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by http://wordpress.org/ and http://www.hqpremiumthemes.com/