Gibson Priest

Gibson Priest

The following gives recommendations about how to care for and store Christmas plants.

Christmas Cactus

This old-time favorite gets its name from dependable holiday flowering.

Actually, three related species look like Christmas cacti. The three types bloom faithfully at different times of the year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. They’ve been extensively hybridized to produce a wide range of flower colors: magenta, white, pink, salmon, and orange.

All holiday cacti need bright light and moderate moisture for best growth and flowering. A south window is perfect. After the six-week holiday blooming, remove spent flowers and apply a houseplant fertilizer.

Christmas Pepper

These garden-pepper cultivars are selected for their fruit color and form. The peppers can be globe or cone shaped and yellow, orange, red, green, or purple, with peak color for one to two months.

The fruits will be brighter and last longer if you provide high light and mild temperatures (60—75 degrees) and keep the soil moist. Fertilize weekly with a soluble fertilizer.

Gloxinia

Look for single or clustered, trumpet-shaped, red, violet-blue, pink, white or bi-colored flowers. A 6-inch gloxinia will have a dozen or more buds and will flower three to four weeks if properly cared for. The blooms last from four to six days.

Avoid direct sunlight. Water from the saucer, with warm water (at least 70 degrees). Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Avoid cold or hot drafts. Similar in some but unlike African violets in other areas, gloxinias need to rest before re-flowering. When the leaves start to die back, water it less often.

Allow the tuberous stem to rest two to four months in dry soil. Resume watering when new growth appears.

Amaryllis

A great spring bulb in the garden, Amaryllis produces spectacular orange, red, white, pink, and multicolored blooms. In pots, plants are generally available from Christmas to Easter. They flower four to six weeks after bulbs are planted. Individual blooms may last three to four days.

To re-flower, place the plant in bright light (outdoors when temperatures permit). Let the foliage fully develop. Fertilize and water it all summer. In late summer or fall, as the leaves begin to die back, water less often. When the leaves die, allow the soil to dry out. Place the bulb in a cool, dry place four to eight weeks before resuming watering.

Cyclamen

These beauties show up in stores from October through March. Attractive foliage and a variety of white, pink, lavender, purple, red, or bi-color blooms make cyclamens excellent gift plants. They can flower for two to four months with proper care. Cyclamens like cool indoor temperatures (50-60 degrees), so place them in an east or north window.

Take care when watering, as plants are easily damaged from over- or under-watering. After flowering has stopped, gradually water them less often. After the leaves die, allow the tuberous stem to remain dry six weeks before re-watering. New foliage will appear after watering resumes. Bright light and cool temperatures, too, may sometimes produce a plant that will re-flower.

If you have any questions regarding your plants, in or out-of-doors; please contact the extension office at 770-749-2142 or email uge2233@uga.edu.

For more information and details on upcoming events, check out the Polk County Extension office on Facebook by searching “UGA Extension Polk County.”

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