How to care for your seasonal seedlings
Many people connect poinsettias, holly and Christmas cactus with the holidays.
These plants give color and flavor to the season. They also have a spiritual connection to both pagan and Christian holidays. Unfortunately, these plants, like most living things, can't live on air alone. They need special care to last through the holiday season and beyond.
The plants aren't that hard to care for though, if one properly waters them, said Lily Doniaz, a certified nurserywoman at the Valley Garden Center in McAllen, Texas.
• Fertilizer: Fertilize after the blooming season with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer every two to three weeks.
• Light: Place plant in full sun to partial shade, ideally in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day.
• Watering: Place three to four ice cubes in the plant every other day.
Christmas cactus (Zygocactus)
• Fertilizer: When new growth appears in the spring, apply a diluted solution of liquid houseplant fertilizer occasionally.
• Light: Christmas cactuses can adapt to low light, but more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high light intensity. If kept outdoors, keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves.
• Watering: Water the top half of soil if the plant feels dry to the touch. During the fall, water the plant enough to prevent wilting. In the summer, water so that soil is continually moist. Do not water at all in October and resume watering cautiously in November. After the plant finishes blooming, withhold water for six weeks. When new growth appears, re-pot the cactus and resume watering.
• How to get a Christmas cactus to flower: The plants need cool temperatures or long nights to induce bloom. Plants generally bloom when night temperatures reach 55 degrees and day temperatures are below 65 degrees for about six weeks. If the temperature is higher, plants need 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night. People can achieve this by placing the plant in a completely dark room or by covering it for 13 hours or longer each night with a piece of dark cloth.
• Fertilizer: Use liquid fertilizer at one-half of the recommended strength and spray the plant several times per season.
• Light: There are many different types of bromeliads; softer the leaf, the less light they need, and the harder the leaf, the more light they need
• Watering: Water using a saucer, so that the water is absorbed from the bottom. Water every 10 days (too much water will cause the roots to rot).
• Light: Place the tree in a window, so that it receives two to three hours of sunlight a day. The tree will tell you if it needs more light because the needles will turn brown and fall off.
• Watering: Water at least once a week.
• Planting: When Christmas ends, plant the tree in full light in a hole slightly larger than the pot
Sources: www.fernlea.com/xmas/ variety/poins.htm; http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/gt/mistletoe/mistletoe.htm; Lily Doniaz, certified nurserywoman, Valley Garden Center; Bromeliad Society International