With another holiday season wrapped up, you may be looking to keep the spirit alive with some festive plants, like poinsettias. While traditionally associated with a winter holiday, poinsettias are native to Mexico, making them tough to maintain through cold Missouri winters. But it can be done.
Keep the plant in a sunny but cool location, like a basement window, for the winter months. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet.
In the spring, prune the stems so that only three to four leaves remain on each and move the plant to a warm, sunny location. In the summer, you can move the plant outside, bringing it back in when temperatures start to cool.
If you want your poinsettia to bloom again for Christmas, keep it in total darkness for 14 hours each night starting at the beginning of October. Make sure it also gets six to eight hours of sunlight during the day. When color starts to show in the bracts, you can return to the normal lighting conditions.
Amaryllis flowers are another warm weather plant tied to the holiday season that can be kept through the winter.
While it’s still blooming, keep it under filtered light and keep the soil moist. Once the flower is gone, cut the stalk near the top of the bulb and move it to a sunny spot. You can move it outdoors in the spring.
To get festive flowers for the next holiday season, stop watering your amaryllis around mid-August and move it indoors to a cool spot.
When the flower stalks peek through the soil, move the plant to a warm spot and begin watering again. After the first flower, move it into filtered light.
Still Time for Spring Bulbs
If the holidays were a bit crazy and you weren’t able to get your bulbs planted, you might be wondering what, if anything, you can do with unused bulbs this late in the game. While it is not recommended that you plant tulips or daffodils in the ground now, it’s still not too late to grow them this spring.
Instead of planting the bulbs outdoors, plant them in a pot. Take the pot outside and bury it in the ground or cover it with a thick layer of mulch.
Around March, push back the mulch or earth and look for green foliage. If you see some, you can slowly work the mulch off the top. When the threat of hard freezes has passed, you can remove all the mulch and plant your bulbs in containers. This technique can work for a variety of spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and muscari.
Find more answers to your gardening questions at mobot.org/gardeninghelp.
Public Information Specialist