Holiday Plants: Keep or Compost?

Holiday Plants: Keep or Compost?

“Can I keep my Poinsettia from year to year?” “Should I save the Cyclamen and try to get it to flower again?” “Can I plant the paperwhite Narcissus bulbs outside?” “What do I do with the Amaryllis once it stops blooming?” These are the questions our customers ask. We love the holiday plants that bring color, beauty, fragrance and life into our homes in the wintertime, but at some point in January most people wonder if they should make an effort to keep them alive or toss them into the compost pile.

Here, in the captions on each photo, are the answers to those questions.

Note that if you’re planning on keeping a plant you’ll probably want to transplant it into a slightly larger clay pot soon. You’ll also want to pick up some fertilizer so that you can start to feed those plants at the end of January…be sure and try the Maxsea brand we carry in the store.  It’s a good idea to have some insecticidal soap on hand in case insects appear as well.

Paperwhite Narcissus aren't hardy in the northeast so don't waste time planting the bulbs outside. Once the flowers wilt, say "thanks for cheering me up!" and put the entire plant into the compost pile.

Paperwhite Narcissus aren’t hardy in the northeast so don’t waste time planting the bulbs outside. Once the flowers wilt, say “thanks for cheering me up!” and put the entire plant into the compost pile.

Keep your Poinsettia as long as it's attractive. Yes, it is possible to save it from year to year and jump through the hoops to make it color up next winter...but it's more work than most people want to do. The professional growers know how to produce huge, beautiful plants so why reinvent the wheel? We recommend that you toss this one too and get yourself a lovely, lush new plant every year.

Keep your Poinsettia as long as it’s attractive. Yes, it is possible to save it from year to year and jump through the hoops to make it color up next winter…but it’s more work than most people want to do. The professional growers know how to produce huge, beautiful plants so why reinvent the wheel? We recommend that you toss this holiday plant in the compost once it’s starting to fade or decline and get yourself a lovely, lush new plant every year.

Cyclamen are another plant that it's possible to keep from year to year but most people choose not to. They need a dormant period in the heat of the summer and very careful watering. Should you want to try keeping one, place it outside in a shady spot in the summer and water when dry. Expect the foliage to fade. Begin to fertilize when you see new growth in the fall, and bring the plant indoors before hard frost.

Cyclamen are another plant that it’s possible to keep from year to year but most people choose not to. They need a dormant period in the heat of the summer and very careful watering. Should you want to try keeping one, place it outside in a shady spot in the summer and water when dry. Expect the foliage to fade. Begin to fertilize when you see new growth in the fall, and bring the plant indoors before hard frost.

A rosemary is worth trying to keep alive all winter because you can clip the herb and cook with it all season long. Don't let a rosemary dry out - check the soil every four days and water well when it starts to feel dry. Do not mist and watch for signs of powdery mildew. (Use an organic fungicide promptly if mildew appears.) Transplant to a larger pot and place outdoors in May.

A rosemary is worth trying to keep alive all winter because you can clip the herb and cook with it all season long. Don’t let a rosemary dry out – check the soil every four days and water well when it starts to feel dry. Do not mist and watch for signs of powdery mildew. (Use an organic fungicide promptly if mildew appears.) Transplant to a larger pot and place outdoors in May.

Amaryllis are the easiest and most rewarding holiday plants to save from year to year. If in a plastic pot, transplant after bloom to a larger clay container. Keep in a sunny window and water when dry. Fertilize once a month and place outside in part-sun in May. Next September bring the pot inside to a cool place (floor of an unheated garage) and let go dormant for about 6-8 weeks. Then bring inside to a warm sunny window and water again to stimulate a new bloom spike.

Amaryllis are the easiest and most rewarding holiday plants to save from year to year. If in a plastic pot, transplant after bloom to a larger clay container. Keep in a sunny window and water when dry. Fertilize once a month and place outside in part-sun in May. Next September bring the pot inside to a cool place (floor of an unheated garage) and let go dormant for about 6-8 weeks. Then bring inside to a warm sunny window and water again to stimulate a new bloom spike.

If you got a 'Jacob' Hellebore for the holidays, plant it outside asap. Plant them in a shady or part-shady location where you'll see them flower next winter.

If you got a ‘Jacob’ Hellebore for the holidays, plant it outside asap. Plant them in a shady or part-shady location where you’ll see them flower next winter. Water them once a week if the ground isn’t frozen and it doesn’t rain.

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