I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas holiday for the 2012 season!
Now that the holidays are rapidly coming to a close, many of us will have an abundance of holiday plants to nurture for an entire year, so we can enjoy them again next year. One of the most popular gifts of the holiday season are Amaryllis bulbs.
Amaryllis bulbs are relatively easy to take care of. If you give them adequate water and bright light they should bloom in about six weeks. The best way to water is to keep the plants evenly moist. Do not water so much that the plants are sitting in standing water. Keep the plants on a windowsill or on a protected porch for the best results. If your bulbs are too small in size, you may have to wait till next year before you get blooms to form.
If you received a Norfolk Pine as a gift or bought one for yourself, you can successfully grow them indoors. As a matter of fact, I recommend that you either grow them indoors or plant them in a container. I do not recommend planting them outdoors. These trees do not fare well in hurricane force winds and they grow extremely large. With that said, Norfolk Pines will do extremely well in an indoor environment, as long as there is ample light. Position your plant near a window will and it will receive a bit of sun daily. These plants will do best if they are watered on a regular schedule. Keep the plants evenly moist, but not dripping wet. Do not allow the plants to sit in standing water. Norfolk Pines also enjoy a humid environment, so if the plant is indoors, you may find it beneficial to lightly mist the plant from time to time to help increase the humidity around the plant. Improper watering can result in needle loss that will not regenerate itself. In addition, never try to prune the tree to shape it. The only pruning that should be done on this plant is for basic maintenance, such as trimming off dead or yellow lower branches.
In the past, I have discussed how to choose and nurture Poinsettia plants during the holidays. These delicate plants can also be planted outdoors, after the season is over. First, choose a location that is sheltered away from strong winds and the full direct rays of the summer sun. Also, choose an area where you can control the artificial light at night, so you can get your plants to bloom next season with minimal effort. Use a good-quality potting mix to place your plants in the ground and be sure it is a well-drained location. It might be wise to repot your plant in a large pot until all danger of frost and cold weather has past. March would be a great transition month to place your prize in the ground. Once the plant is planted and established, be sure to trim off all the old red bracts. You will need to do this in order to get blooms next season.
Now comes the tricky part. Starting around November or sooner, the plant is going to need long nights in order to re-bloom. During this two-month period, you will need to eliminate as much signs of artificial lighting at night as you can. Keep the area as dark as possible. This is the key to getting new blooms for the holidays.
One of the biggest problems you might encounter with a poinsettia plant is root rot. Often times, you will see poinsettia plants wilting, as if they were not watered in days. You go to check the soil and it is still moist. So, why is the plant wilting? Actually, the poinsettia most likely has a root fungus or disease that is preventing the plant from taking on water. That explains the wilted condition. This is usually caused from the plant being in soil that is overly moist. This condition will almost always lead to a dead plant. In addition, you must also keep a watchful eye out for whiteflies. Treat them at the very first indication with Orthenex. With a little luck and some skill, you should be rewarded with some great holiday color in your garden next season.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy and safe new year! I look forward to seeing everybody in 2013!
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.hometowngarden.com.