How To Care For Blooming Holiday Plants

Tis the season for potted blooming holiday plants.  Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Orchids and Cyclamen are just a few being offered to boost your holiday spirits.  They can be used as decorations, or to add color to your leafy houseplant displays.   Unlike most plants that we buy and expect to to have a long time, florist plants typically look their best on the day you buy them.  With some simple care, you can keep them looking beautiful for a month or longer.

blooming holiday plants

Here are some tips for keeping those blooming holiday plants looking fresh!
  1. Buy your plants as soon as they arrive at your local garden center.  Not on the mark down table at the dollar store (the quality will already be deteriorated).
  2. Choose plants with healthy green foliage and flowers that are not fully opened.
  3. Protect the plants from cold or hot air when transporting it home.  Don’t leave it in a car to freeze or bake.
  4. Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch with tepid, not cold water.  Do not let it sit in water (the decorative foil covers hold water).  A full bushy plant may need water every 2-3 days.
  5. Display the plant in a draft free location with bright indirect light (not direct sun) and moderate temperatures.

Most florist plants are good for one season.  When they fade, you might as well discard them.  You will find that trying to get a Poinsettia to return to it’s former glory is almost impossible.  One exception to this rule is the Christmas Cactus.  They make excellent house plants and look nice in hanging baskets.

blooming holiday plants

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus are compact and slow growing.  They only need an occasional repotting and grooming.  You can forget about them for a week or two when you’re away from home and they’ll look the same when you return.  Best of all, in bright indirect light, these plants will bloom reliably year after year.  Water it often enough to keep the soil from totally drying out.  Fertilize Christmas Cactus monthly from Spring to Fall.  You may take it outside in the Summer, in a part shade location and keep it in an east facing window from Fall to Spring.

Getting Christmas Cactus To Rebloom

Flower buds form when the plant is exposed to at least 6 weeks of cool temperatures (below 65 degrees) and shorter days (at least 13 hours of continuous darkness).  To achieve this, leave the plant outdoors as late as you can in the Fall.  It can take temperatures down to the low 40’s, or you can keep it in an unheated room that isn’t illuminated at night.

So buy and enjoy all the beautiful blooming florist plants this holiday season.  Give them as a much appreciated hostess gift too.  Just know what to expect after the holidays have come and gone.  Ditch the Poinsettia and put it out of it’s misery.  Keep the Christmas Cactus and enjoy it as a re-blooming houseplant for years to come.  It will probably even outlive the cat!

Happy Holidays!