Check out these tips for keeping poinsettias, Christmas cactus and holly looking beautiful all year round.
Poinsettias, Christmas cactus and holly bring color and life to holiday celebrations, and they can all be kept alive from year to year. Here's a look at what it takes:
With more than 100 varieties, poinsettias come in a variety of colors, including red, pink, white and even gold. Here are some tips for choosing and caring for a poinsettia:
It's possible to keep your poinsettia year after year, but it takes work to force its dormancy in the fall. Here's how to do it:
1. Fertilize it with a houseplant fertilizer once a month after the holidays. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that can promote leggy, weak growth in winter.
2. Slowly reduce watering until the soil is nearly bone dry.
3. In February or March, prune the stems back to a height of three inches. Remove leaves and repot the plant into a container that’s 2 to 3 inches bigger than the original container.
4. After all danger of frost has passed, leave the plant outdoors until fall.
5. Around October 1, bring the plant indoors and force dormancy with 15 hours of total darkness each day. The plant can receive light during the day.
6. Around Thanksgiving, bring your plant out and it will begin to bloom.
Christmas cactus needs excellent drainage, several hours of bright light a day, medium temperature and medium to high humidity. To increase the amount of indirect light it receives, line whatever the plant sits on with aluminum foil. Water it thoroughly when the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch, and discard excess water.
Here are some tips for long-term care:
Holly bushes can be planted in the garden for year-round color. You’ll have to be patient, though, as cultivation can take two years. Here’s how to do it:
1. Squeeze the seed from the berry and place it in a stratification consisting of a layer of sand covered with a mulch of evergreen needles.
2. Put it outside. The alternate thawing and freezing will crack the seeds.
3. Toward spring, plant the seeds outside in a semi-shaded location.