WITH PROPER CARE, HOLIDAY PLANTS WILL BLOOM BEYOND NEW YEAR, by Larry Williams UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Christmas cactus, poinsettia, kalanchoe, cyclamen and Jerusalem cherry are some of the flowering holiday plants that can be kept for enjoyment beyond the holidays.

All of these plants require bright, indirect light. They should be placed close to a sunny window and turned once a week to prevent them from leaning toward the light. In rooms with poor light, place your plants under incandescent or fluorescent lamps. Plants located too close to incandescent light may be damaged from the heat.

Temperature should be kept cool for best results with the holiday plants. Ideal temperature is lower than found in the average room. Your plants should do well if day temperature is 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

It’s important to keep these plants evenly moist. Avoid letting them become bone dry or water logged, which could result in root injury.

Flowers will eventually fade on your holiday plants. Remove them when this happens. Removing faded flowers improves the plants’ appearance and prevents seed formation, prodding more energy for growth.

Poinsettias will eventually drop their leaves. This is normal. The plant is going into a resting stage. As leaves begin to drop reduce watering until you’re watering only enough to keep the roots and stems from drying excessively. In April, prune the stems to about 6 inches, begin watering, fertilize and place poinsettias where they’ll get plenty of light but not direct sun. Forcing poinsettias to reflower for the Christmas season can be a challenge within the average home environment.

Jerusalem cherry can be kept for next year but you’ll need to cut it back and repot in spring.

Amaryllis is sold in flower or as a bulb which can easily be forced into flower. each flower lasts only a few days. But since multiple flowers are produced, plants may remain in flower for a week or more. After the last flower fades, remove the bloom stalk. Leaves begin to emerge at flowering. It’s essential that leaves remain on the bulb so that it can manufacture foods needed for reflowering. It should be kept under high indoor light and watered and fertilized regularly. When danger of frost has passed, it can be placed outdoors and grown under light shade. By late summer the leaves will begin to die as the bulb enters a resting stage. Reduce watering, store in a cool dry place and allow the bulb to rest two to three months. Resume watering and the plant should reflower in four to six weeks. Amaryllis can be planted outside in our climate and will reflower each year with proper care.

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