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  HOME AND GARDEN » House Plants Gardenig Tips  

Christmas Plants Care (By Michael Politis)

Christmas is not far away and this is the time for giving and receiving flowering potted plants. A bright, colorful azalea, Christmas begonia, chrysanthemum or a gaily decorated poinsettia, Kalanchoe, or Christmas cactus added to the other decorations in the home give the holiday season a festive air.

These Christmas plants can be enjoyed not only during the holidays but will remain attractive far into January and even February if properly cared for. Care of Christmas plants, whether a colorful cyclamen, a long-lasting kalanchoe or a cheerful Christmas begonia, is easy. Faithful attention will add days and even weeks of life to any of these popular Christmas plants.

Temperature has an important influence on the length of time a flowering house plant will remain attractive. The poinsettia is especially sensitive to chilling, and a prolonged chill will cause it to lose it leaves. The plant should be placed in the coolest part of the room, but not in a cold draft. This means away from radiators and other sources of heat. A temperature of 65 degrees at night is satisfactory but 60 degrees is still better for most of the flowering potted plants. In fact, cyclamen like a 50 degree night temperature.

The method of watering many times determines the life of a plant. Many people drown their plants by watering at regular intervals, not considering whether the plant needs it. Plants roots need air as well as water, and excessive amounts of water do not allow a place for air in the soil. Overwatering literally smothers the plant roots. Proper watering calls for a little thoughtfulness and often the exercise of restraint. Water should be applied in sufficient quantities to thoroughly soak the soil in the pot and no more given until the soil approaches dryness again. Plants should be checked for dryness daily but not watered if the soil is still moist.Remember that most holiday plants have been out of a greenhouse a short period. The difference between a greenhouse environment and a typical indoor room is usually considerable. In the home provide as much natural light as possible. A dark bedroom, hall, entrance foyer, or living room does not have optimum growing conditions. Place your plants where they receive the morning sun. Poor light will cause leaf drop.

Although the humidity in a house is not easily altered, plants will do best in an area of the house where the humidity is the greatest. This is usually in the cooking area. It often helps if plants are set on pebble-filled saucers with water maintained at a level just below the base of the pot so that it does not touch the water.

By giving you Christmas pot plants the best environmental conditions of proper temperature, adequate water, and good light, they will furnish an attractive display for a longer time.


 Michael Politis




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