How to care for your holiday plants
By LYNN BARBER
Now that the holidays are behind us, you may want a few tips about the care required for a couple of traditional holiday plants you have either received or purchased. So, here we go…
The bright red poinsettia is more easily established for outdoor use than other colors, such as pink, white or burgundy. This is a “short day” plant, meaning it blooms when days are short, and nights are long. Blooming requires an extended period of darkness. If planted near artificial light, such as a street light or exterior house lighting, after Oct. 1, there will be a delay in flowering.
This tropical plant likes temperatures in the area of 75 to 80 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. Indoors, don’t fertilize and only water when the soil is dry. You can plant Poinsettia outside after the last chance of frost has passed. In central Florida, that usually means after mid-February. Outdoors, it should be located in the sun and away from artificial light. This plant has received a bad reputation as being poisonous, but it’s not. There is white, milky sap in the stem. However, if you are allergic to latex, you are probably better off not handling this plant. See: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep349.
Christmas cactus is also a “short day” plant. For it to bloom during the holidays, move it to a dark area from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily for six weeks. After blooming has ended, place it in bright light. If indoors, place the plant within six feet of a window. Light exposure in a north window is not effective. Flowers vary in color from white to pink to red and more. This plant is great in containers on a front porch, lanai or as a houseplant.
If you have not previously attended one of our compost, microirrigation or rainwater harvesting workshops, check the website in the upcoming months to register. For more information and calendar of events, go to: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough and https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/.