If you received the gift of a plant over the holidays, one question: How's it looking?
Hopefully better than the poinsettia we have! Master gardener Ciscoe Morris never likes to leave a plant down, so we thought we'd see what advice he has to keep our plants healthy and thriving!
Holiday gift plants add extra fun to the holiday season. If you were lucky enough to receive one or two from friends, or if you bought them yourself to add cheery color to the house, the question you may be asking is, "How do I keep them looking great for longer than just the holidays?" Here are some tips that will help you keep good ones looking fantastic, and which ones are better to designate to the compost bin when they stop looking good.
Poinsettia: Make the nursery or store wrap it and don't leave it out in the cold. Look for one where the yellow flowers in the middle of the red bracts are just starting to open. Water when soil surface feels dry. Give it bright light out of direct sun and don't put by a door with cold air coming in or a heater vent.
Bromeliad: The blooms last two or three months, and come in a wide variety of colors including colorful foliage. Plants die after bloom, so if you're a black thumb you don't have to feel any guilt when it kicks off.
Kalanchoe: This is a sun-loving succulent with long-lasting blooms in a variety of colors. Not worth trying to get it to rebloom. Buy a new one every holiday season.
Anthurium: One of my favorite houseplants with brightly colored, attractive flowers. These are worth growing on after the holidays. Water when surface feels dry and keep in bright light out of direct sunshine. Growth slows in winter so water less frequently and hold off the fertilizer between October and March. With luck, you'll have it for years.
Stapelia (carrion cactus): An African succulent. Give bright light as possible, water only if the upright spikes shrivel in winter. Big round buds form in summer, opening up to reveal big, starfish-shaped flower that smells like a heard of cattle died in your front room. Don't tell your friend recipient what to expect. They'll be in for quite a surprise!
Phalaenopsis (Orchid): Easiest orchid to grow, and one of the best-looking houseplants out there. The magnificent flowers last for months. Find one that is just starting to bloom or is putting out additional flower spikes. Keep in bright light out of direct sunshine. Water a little every week or two when the pot feels light. Fertilize (with an orchid food, half strength) every 2 weeks in summer and every month in winter. When flowers poop out in late winter or spring, cut the flower spike back where the first flower on the spike was (nearest the leafy part of the plant) so that most of the upright part of the spike remains, and let the plant grow strong all summer. In October, put the plant where temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees cooler at night (not below 55 degrees) than daytime temps, and that should stimulate new flower spikes to form.
Happy New Year and good luck with your gift plants!