Yard and Garden: Caring for Holiday Plants

May 6, 2014 – 09:36 am

AMES, Iowa — Holiday plants are one way to extend the cheer of the holiday season and serve as a reminder of cherished time we spent with friends and family. Horticulturists with ISU Extension and Outreach say keeping these plants looking good through the holiday season and beyond is not as difficult as some might expect.

How do I care for a poinsettia?

Place the poinsettia in a plant sleeve or carefully wrap it before transporting the plant home. Exposing the poinsettia to freezing temperatures, even for a few minutes, may cause its bracts and leaves to blacken and drop. As soon as you get home, unwrap the poinsettia and place it near a sunny window or other well-lit location. However, don’t let the plant touch the cold window pane. Also, keep the poinsettia away from cold drafts or heat sources. Poinsettias prefer temperatures between 60 and 70 F.

Water needs can be determined with your finger. Check the potting soil daily. When the soil surface becomes dry to the touch, water the plant until water begins to flow out the bottom of the pot. The pots of most poinsettias are placed inside decorative pot covers. When watering a poinsettia, carefully remove the pot covering, water the plant in the sink, then drop the poinsettia back into the pot cover.

When given good care, a poinsettia should remain attractive for several weeks. Poinsettias are normally discarded after the holiday season.

How do I care for a Christmas cactus?

Plants commonly referred to as Christmas cacti include the true Christmas cactus (Schumbergera bridgesii), Thanksgiving cactus (Schumbergera truncata) and numerous hybrids.

While Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are similar in appearance, there are differences. The flattened stem segments (phylloclades) on the Christmas cactus have rounded margins. Christmas cacti typically bloom in December or January. The phylloclade margins on the Thanksgiving cactus possess two to four saw-toothed projections. Thanksgiving cacti typically bloom in November or December.

Source: www.extension.iastate.edu

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Sounds like you will be traveling...

I suggest you have a live flower sent to their home to arrive just before you get there... something like an azalea or a Thanksgiving cactus plant, or a Christmas Cactus plant.
While there, I recommend you be very active in helping prepare meals, serve and clean up after the meals.
Offer to do things like peeling the potatoes, set the table, etc.
Since you are going to be there for 4 days, offer to run the vacuum before guests arrive, etc.
Offer to make quick trips to the grocery store as you see the need.
If there are children in the family, help entertain the children to give their parents a break

Christmas Cactus Unrooted Cuttings 'Lavender' Variety
Lawn & Patio ()
  • Easy to Grow.
  • A holiday and year round favorite.
  • Buds bloom from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
  • Three healthy unrooted cuttings are 2-4 segments each.
  • Roots can take 4 to 6 weeks to grow.

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  5. Thanksgiving cactus Blooms