A Black Thumb’s Guide to Holiday Plants

A Black Thumb’s Guide to Holiday Plants

You say you usually kill the colorful plants people give you during the holidays? Don’t despair…here are some of The Garden Lady’s hints for keeping them alive.

1. Poke a hole in the bottom of that foil wrapping. Better yet, pull the foil off and throw it away. You want the water to be able to drain out of the hole on the bottom, so put a saucer, plastic storage carton, or an old Frisbee underneath the pot to catch the overflow when you water it.

2. Yes, you have water it. This is where most people go wrong. Ignore that plant for longer than a week and it’s going to go to that Great Garden in the sky. Give it too much water, and the pot will turn into the a Holiday Swamp.

Many plant lovers will say that you should water when the soil looks and feels dry, and this is true. But for you grim reapers of horticulture, perhaps it’s best if you program regular watering into your iPhone or Blackberry. Water your new plant well every six days, letting the water fill the receptacle underneath…after the plant sits in that puddle for an hour, pour the excess water out of the saucer so the roots don’t rot.

Another option is to take the plant to the sink once a week and water it until the pot is very heavy with water. Let it sit for a few minutes and water it again. Then let the excess water drain down the sink for an hour or so. Return the plant to where it gets good light.

3. Yes, plants need light. Most holiday plants, Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, Cyclamen and the like, will do fine near an eastern or western facing window. Just remember to keep the blinds and curtains open during the day.

Cyclamen look nice when grouped with other plants in arrangements for the holidays. They are especially pretty with the lemon cypress, a lime-green small tree.

If all you have is a southern window, place the plant a couple of feet to one side or the other, or on a table that’s three to four feet in front of the glass. The idea is to give your plant bright light but not the hard, direct sunshine that it would receive when placed right next to the window.

4. If you still succeed in doing the plant in, don’t despair. Think of it as a cut-flower bouquet that was in dirt instead of water…something that was never destined to live forever. And start dropping hints nowfor next season. Something like, “Those succulents are really intriguing. I guess that I’m really am a cactus kind of guy/gal…”

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