Keeping Holiday Plants
Holiday plants are a common gift but in many cases the recipient
is not sure how to keep the plant beyond New Years. Many people
are given a flowering plant such as a mum, poinsettia, or azalea
at this time of the year. These plants can have a very short flowering
life or can flower for weeks; depending upon the care they are given.
Most holiday plants like very bright light, but not direct sun.
They need moist but well-drained soils and cool temperatures. Direct
sunlight tends to help dry out the soil faster for two reasons.
First, the sun heats up the pot and the soil inside, thus causing
evaporation of the soil moisture at a faster rate. The direct sun
also heats up the plants more, causing the plants to transpire at
a faster rate.
Soils that are kept too wet cause plant roots to suffocate or drown.
Soils that are allowed to dry out too much cause the plants to wilt.
Mild wilting shortens the blooming time of the plant. Wilting that
is severe or lasts too long can cause the plants to die.
To determine if the plants growing in small pots need to be watered,
stick your finger into the soil. Just looking at the soil or using
a soil probe that is often sold to homeowners will often give a
misreading. Sometimes the soil may look dry or the probe says the
soil is dry when, in fact, it is saturated. The reverse is also
possible. Your vision will tell you the soil is wet or the probe
says the soil is wet when, in fact, it is dry and plants may be
about to wilt.
On large pots, consider sticking a new sharpened pencil into the
soil. Stick the pencil in about half its length, and about two inches
from the pot's rim. If the sharpened end comes out dry, water is
needed. If it comes out soaked, the soil needs to be dried out.
When watering, water till the water runs out the bottom. Wait a
few minutes and water again. Pour excess water out of the saucer
the pot is sitting upon after ten minutes. Never let the plants
sit in the water too long or root damage may result.
Cool temperatures help to reduce transpiration--water loss from
the plant. Setting the plant on the floor next to an outside wall
at night will help stretch blooming time.
Some people want to know if the plants need to be fertilized. The
answer is, no. Most holiday plants have a slow-release fertilizer
mixed into the potting soil. This slow-release fertilizer usually
feeds the plant for two or more months.
December 2004 - January 2005: Choosing
a Christmas Tree Variety | Diseases and
Insects of Shrubs and Small Trees | Catalogs
are Arriving, Plan Your Spring Garden Now | Keeping Holiday
Plants | Prevent Ice and Snow Damage to Trees