Many of us may receive plants for the holiday season (either wanted or not), and thankfully most of the plants you are likely to be given are not fussy and require only a little bit of attention here and there. Since it’s been nearly a year since we last had to worry about caring for these plants, here’s a little refresher course on some of the more popular plant gifts this season.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
A rather unlikely plant for the holiday season, these colorful cacti originate in tropical rainforests, and unlike their desert cousins, prefer bright indirect sunlight (meaning an east or west facing window). Water when it becomes dry and keep in temperatures between 65 and 80 (although they are very adaptable, extreme high or low temperatures can damage the plant). If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant this season, the Christmas Cactus is both long-lived and easily grown from cuttings. But be warned, they may not always bloom when you expect (such as around Christmas)!
Interesting Fact - Unlike the more familiar desert versions, this cactus has no spines and is an epiphyte, meaning it grows on other plants in a non-parasitic way. There are also Thanksgiving and Easter cactus, all of which originate in Brazil.
More Information - “How to Properly Care for your Christmas Cactus”
Suited especially for the indoors, this pine looks beautiful year round and makes a wonderfulliving Christmas tree. The Norfolk Pine prefers indirect lighting and cooler indoor temperatures. Water when the top inch of soil becomes dry, giving it enough to allow some excess to escape through the bottom. This pine requires minimal care and will be attractive for many years. Mist the tiny tree every week or so to keep foliage green and healthy.
Interesting Fact - Although commonly known as the Norfolk Pine, this tree is not a real pine but a conifer. If given proper care and in the right environment, the Norfolk Pine can grow up to 200 feet tall.
More Information - “Norfolk Island Pine Care”
Out of all the plants available during the holiday season, the poinsettia is probably the most well-known and the most popular choice. Poinsettias can be bought in the standard red color, but they also come in white, dark blue/black, and white and red stripes. Many of them are also covered in bows and glittery gold sparkles. Unfortunately, most of these plants will get tossed after the holidays are over. It’s true that this plant is very fussy, but with patience and dedication, you can get it to bloom for years to come. Show off your Poinsettia in a well-lit place (such as a window) and try to keep the temperature below 70 degrees F (this prevents fading). For now, all you need to do is water it whenever it becomes slightly dried out and admire its beautiful colors.
Interesting Fact - The Poinsettia is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the US in 1825. It is also known as Zack Wood, noche buena, Flor de Pascua and, to the ancient Aztecs, Cuitlaxochitl.
This unusual plant is not particularly fond of the indoors, but if you keep the soil moist and give it some bright, direct sunlight, it can thrive. They prefer cooler temperatures and are great if you want a no-hassle plant after the fruit fall off – when the display is over, this annual is ready for the compost pile. You can also grow this one yourself as well from seed, making it a cheap way to have a pretty plant for the holidays.
Interesting Fact - Originally from South American, the peppers on this plant are extremely hot, which can cause burning in the eyes or skin. Take care if you have pets or small children.
More Information - “Caring for Ornamental Pepper Plants”