Get The Dirt With Florida Yard Expert: How To Care For Your Holiday Plants

Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension

Poinsettia 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 October 1, there will be a delay in fowering. Temperatures in the area of 75-80 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night are needed. Indoors, don’t fertilize or overwater. Give it a drink only when the soil is dry. Plant Poinsettia outside after the last chance of frost has passed, which for us, usually means after mid-February.
Outdoors, it should be located in the sun and away from artificial light. Prune to 4-6 inches of stem on each branch and then fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer from March to October.

Christmas cactus is also a short-day plant. For this plant 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 your Christmas cactus in bright light where it will thrive. If indoors, place the plant within six feet of a window. Light exposure in a north window is not effective, so use south, east and west windows. It prefers well drained soil. Propagation is from cuttings.

Amaryllis is a bulb that needs well-drained soil, has medium drought and low to no salt tolerance. Plant Amaryllis between September and January. It performs best in partial shade and well in sun. Propagation is from seeds, cuttings and smaller bulbs that are attached to the “mother” bulbs. You can leave bulbs in the ground for years or dig them up and replant them during September and October. If you dig up the bulbs instead of leaving them in the ground, remove the foliage and store them in an area that is dry and shaded for a period of 6-8 weeks before replanting.

For information about these holiday gems, please see the University of Florida publications, “Poinsettias at a Glance” by Sydney Park Brown, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep349,
“Amaryllis” by Sydney Park Brown and Robert J. Black, and “Colorful Christmas Cactus Care” by Dan Culbert at: okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu/News%20columns/Christmas%20Cactus.htm
from which information contained in this article was adapted.

For information about the nine principles of the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Program or for assistance with gardening-related questions, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 813-744-5519, visit our website at: http://hillsborough.ifas.ufl.edu for upcoming workshops.