HOLIDAY PLANTS - BY GLADYS JEURINK
You can drown
your new Holiday houseplants if you keep the fancy wrapping in place.
At least poke holes in the paper to let it drain.
If you love that paper, open it up and put a saucer of gravel
under the pot and then re-wrap. Watch
Last year I
wrote about “POINSETTIA”, “CHRISTMAS
“CYCLAMEN”. This year I have included a few new Holiday
succulents and there are several rather different plants that can be
used as houseplants such as (1) Velvet Ears, (2) Pen Wipes, (3) Panda
Plant, and (4) Pumila. But the one that is a Christmas gift is usually Kalanchoe
blossfeldiana. Much work has been done with this one and different
colors are available. Normally it blooms in spring as days get longer
but florists can have it blooming any time by controlling its day
length. Most authors recommend throwing it out when it finishes blooming
and a number of people have complained to me about not being able to
keep it around but if you like a challenge, put it outdoors in summer
and bring it in late. It
does not like temps under 45 degrees F. To bring it back into bloom,
cover with a box for 14 hours each night and then put it in light for 10
hours during the day. Do
this for 2 weeks then leave it in the light and blooms should appear in
about six weeks. I have kept the original plant by pruning off the tops
after blooming and keeping it dry for about a month and also by taking
tip prunings. However, one
needs to try to grow a number of plants in order to be a success.
Cherry is also called Jerusalem Cherry or Christmas Pepper.
“Capsicum annuum” can come
in several forms; cherry shaped, cone shaped or in clusters. The cones
are the most popular. The
cherry ones may be “Solanum
pseudocapsicum” and are toxic to children and pets if eaten.
Cone fruits may be very hot but not toxic and they keep their
color for 8 to 12 weeks if kept in a bright light and a cool spot.
They need to be kept moist at all times.
Most of these plants are started from seed and tossed when the
peppers wither. You can save these pepper seeds and plant next spring to be
grown outside all summer to have new peppers for Christmas. You can get stem cuttings to root if you keep your plant
through out the winter. If
you get a younger plant there may be several colors from green to yellow
to orange to red. There are purple ones but they are not as popular at
Christmas. The plants
outside will need full sun.
About this time
of year one can find a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria
heterophylla). After a few years they will be too big for the house
so I try to find someone with a tall, tall window, or a greenhouse. In
the meantime I try to have a baby growing up.
The last few years they have been sold with several plants in a
pot and very small. I have never liked this so I use a pair of scissors to cut
all but the best one off. After they are a few feet tall, I use them as
a Christmas tree. Their stems are not particularly strong so I have
small ornaments. My big tree has spent all summer in high shade outside
and is too big to be inside except for Christmas so the last two winters
has been spent in the garage which is insulated. My “bougainvillea”,
“Allamanda”, several water
plants, and all the cactus keep it company under two 300 watt bulbs. The
roots of a Norfolk Island Pine do not need a large pot but their limbs
do! Otherwise the wind upsets them on a bad day outside. I usually also
put a layer of small rocks or pebbles on top to help balance.
They like to be damp but not wet.
They will sunburn if you put them directly outside so I do it
gradually by starting them on the north side of the house for a week or
two and then to the east side under a Linden tree that has been pruned
Do you remember
not so many years ago, if you had a new “poinsettia”
plant and you put it in a draft or even if it got cold on
the way home, it would drop all of its leaves? Or that it was always
red? The plants available to us for the past few years now come in
different colors and shades of color, and are not quite so
temperamental. However, they are sensitive to cold drafts and do like to
be warm. When you get any
plant from the store this time of year, be sure and cover it with a sack
when you take it to the car or take it from the car into the house. Any
green plant will suffer if taken out of a warm store or warm car if the
air temperature is below 55 degrees F. If the air temperature is between
55 degrees F. and 36 degrees F. you need at least 1 paper sack. (Do not
use plastic as it conducts the cold.) Use two bags if the air
temperature is between 36 degrees F. and 15 degrees F. Use 3 bags if the
air temperature is 15 degrees F. or below. This also goes for cut
flowers from the florist. And do
not put any plant close to a furnace register or it will dry out
are actually shrubs that will grow 6 to 7 feet tall if planted outside
in a non-freeze area. They are natives of Mexico and named after a diplomat (Poinsett)
who brought them to this country. They are kept small by breeding and
chemicals. The true flowers
are those little yellow “things” in the center of the red bracts.
Look them over carefully when buying a plant.
If the yellow flowers are open, your plant will not last as long
as they are already blooming.
your plant. They like it
damp but not wet and if kept in good lighting will still be red (or
whatever color you bought) in June when you can cut it back and plant it
outside. The cuttings will
root into new plants.
throw old plants away but if you like challenges, try to get one to
re-bloom for the next Christmas. The ‘Poinsettia’ is a “short
day” plant. That means in
its natural habitat it will start to bloom when the days get shorter.
You can simulate that and force it to bloom for Christmas. To get full
instructions for doing this, your County Extension Service has
information or go to “ianrhome.unl.edu/search”. In the top box
scroll down to Extension and in the bottom box type in Poinsettia. The
best publication is “Re-flowering Poinsettia and Christmas Cactus”
several times during the year. Most
of them are sold in October or November to give the plant time to bloom
for Christmas. Their normal
time is late spring and summer but these have been treated to bloom in 6
to 8 weeks after you put them in the window and dampen the soil. Do not water again until you see a bud or a leaf appear.
They will have long strap like leaves to keep alive until after
frost when you can plant them outside. In the fall after the first light
frost cut the tops off and let them dry for 10 to 12 weeks before
starting again. They must have that rest period in order to bloom again.
Some of my bulbs bloom in late winter but most in May and June after I
plant them outside. If you want them to bloom at Christmas time you have
to start earlier and force them into dormancy for their rest period.
Copyright Nov. 28,