Keep Christmas Household Plants Healthy

In this merry month of December many of us will purchase colorful plants to make the winter season a little brighter. I thought this information on florist's plants from the now retired magazine Country Living Gardener, Nov/Dec 1997 p.90-91 would help shine some lights:

Plant's traditionally known as florist's plants can also be found nowadays in supermarkets. Similar to fresh produce they are grown as crops, harvested in their prime and treated as perishable goods. When decorating for holidays or special occasions they will enhance the color of leafy green houseplants and can even boost spirits during the darker winter months. Florist plants typically look their best on the day you buy them in contrast to the plants you buy in anticipation for a long term future. Some simple care tips can keep them looking attractive for up to a month or longer. Eventually their flowers will fade, wither or drop off. Depending on the plant you can either discard it or try to sustain and renew it.

To Prolong Plant Beauty:
❖ Obtain the plants from a greenhouse, or else a supermarket as soon as you know they are delivered. If you wait for plants to go on sale their quality has deteriorated.
❖ Choose a plant with green, healthy looking foliage packed with flower buds beginning to open.
❖ Cover the plant with a paper bag when transporting to the car to protect from cold or hot drafts. Paper will shield the plant better than plastic which really is not insulating. Go straight home so the plant is not left in a freezing or sweltering parked car.
❖ Once you get home water the plant right away if the soil is dry. Add tepid, not cold water until it drains through the bottom. Then water the plant just as the soil starts to dry out.
❖ Place the plant in a draft-free location in indirect light with moderate temperatures.
❖ Groom often, removing flowers and leaves as they fade.

Some Plants Are Not Renewable:
Resembling garden annuals most florist plants survive for just one season. Once they fade, it is often better to discard them. Poinsettia, ornamental pepper, fairy primrose, cineraria, persian violet, Jerusalem cherry, chrysanthemum, Rieger begonia, Calceolaria or pocketbook plant are often included in this group. Some are actually annuals that will die after they bloom. Others are perennials that will be a challenge to restore to their original splendor.

Plants to Keep:
Various florist plants can be maintained in pots or planted in the garden. Christmas cactus and its relatives, Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus are not like cacti from desert climates being native to Brazil's cool moist mountainous forests. From fall to spring locate them in an east or south window then set them outside in a sheltered location in summer. Flower buds will form when the plant is exposed to at least 6 weeks of cool nights and short days. A potted kalanchoe with its plump leaves may re-bloom if treated like a Christmas cactus. After blooming a cyclamen or gloxinia can be dried out and allowed to go dormant for a few months. New growth can then be initiated after the corm or tuber is repotted in fresh soil and watered. Easter lilies and other spring blooming bulbs can be transplanted into a sunny garden location. Because they grow so slowly orchids can be expensive. But, if you can keep one happy for at least a year by providing bright indirect light and humidity you may enjoy it for a long time. Florist plants are defined as bouquets with roots to be enjoyed whenever you can.