How to keep your poinsettias and Christmas cacti happy all year


Living plants have become an essential part of holiday decor.

They add a festive pop of color and help usher in the holiday season. But, as we put decorations away and turn our attention to the year ahead, most of us accept the demise of our poinsettias and Christmas cacti at the end of the holiday season. But did you know, with a little effort, you can keep them alive and blooming for holidays to come?

Here are some simple guidelines to keep your holiday plants alive and in bloom again for 2022, according to CAES News:

Understand your plant

Knowing where your plants came from and understanding how to care for them is a great place to start.

Both poinsettias and Christmas cacti have their origins in the tropical mountains of Central and South America, meaning neither plant is adapted to arid conditions. It’s fine to let their soils dry out a little before watering, but they can’t survive long periods of dry soil.

CAES News recommends watering these plants deeply each time, soaking all of the soil and allowing excess water to drain freely away from the pot so that the soil does not stay saturated.

While poinsettias thrive in full sun, the Christmas cactus prefers indirect or dappled light, according to CAES News. This could mean placing your Christmas cactus to the side of a window or in the center of a room rather than on the windowsill.

In the home, both plants love temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, CAES News notes that these plants should avoid drastic temperature changes, such as those caused by a draft or being directly in the path of a heating or air conditioning vent.

Maintain to keep them beautiful

In order to maintain an attractive and healthy poinsettia, cut it back a few times a year. In the early spring, cut your poinsettia back until about 6 inches of stem remains. You can start fertilizing once new growth appears. Around July, remove the top of the plants, leaving four to five leaves on each stem. If the plant becomes leggy in early fall, this step can be repeated.

Both plants require “short day” conditions, which means 12 to 14 hours of total darkness each night, in order to signal color and bud production.

According to CAES News, “poinsettias may require these ‘short days’ for up to 10 weeks. This means that, beginning 10 weeks before you wish to see color, the plants will need at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night.”

“Christmas cacti do not require as many short days, but should be grown in cooler nighttime temperatures of about 50 to 60 F to initiate bud formation. Once color begins to form on poinsettias or buds begin to form on Christmas cacti, the signaling is complete and you can leave the plants to grow in normal conditions,” CAES News states.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy your festive plants again next holiday season. And if all else fails, fake plants are almost impossible to kill.

©2021 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

This story was originally published December 20, 2021 5:30 AM.

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