Christmas plants


Many of us have purchased a Poinsettia, Amaryllis, or Christmas cactus to decorate our homes or have received one as a gift for the holiday season and may need some information on how to care for these special indoor plants.
The amaryllis, Christmas cactus, and poinsettia are three popular plants for the holidays each year. Special attention should be given to each of these plants to help them survive living in their new home.

Following the guides below may ensure healthy plants during and after the holiday season.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum genus), a tender bulb plant and native of South Africa, is one of the most colorful houseplants grown. The large funnel-shaped flowers come in a wide range of colors from white to deep scarlet and some in two-color combinations. The six to eight-inch flowers, with six large petals, are born on one to two-foot solid flower stems.

Amaryllis plants grow best in bright indirect light from a south, east, or west window. When they are actively growing or flowering, make sure to keep the soil moist. Keep in mind that over-watering or watering the crown may result in crown rot. Average indoor humidity is adequate. Ideal daytime temperature for the amaryllis is 65o to 70o.

Fertilize only when the plant is actively growing or flowering with a commercial flowering houseplant fertilizer. Read and follow all label directions.

Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is one houseplant that is easy to grow. It is leafless with flat one and a half-inch wide segmented stems. Emerging at Christmas time, flower clusters are about three inches long and may be red, white or pink in color.
Place the plant in indirect sun in a south, east or west window and keep it moist during flowering and while actively growing; but at other times, allow to dry out between watering. Average indoor humidity is fine.

Fertilize with any commercial indoor houseplant fertilizer while the Christmas cactus is actively growing or flowering. Do not over-fertilize for it may cause damage to the plant’s roots.

The most popular living holiday gift, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), was discovered growing wild in Mexico in the 1800’s. This flower is one to three-feet tall and has red, white, pink or light green leaves around the small yellow flowers.

Indoors, place your poinsettia in a bright, indirect, south, east or west window.
When watering the poinsettia, keep the soil evenly moist and discard water in a drainage saucer. Over-watering will result in root rot.

Fertilize the poinsettia all year, but more heavily in the summer months. Read and follow all label recommendations. Ideal growing temperatures are: daytime 65o to 70o and nighttime 50o to 55o.

For more information and a fact sheet on holiday plant care, call your local extension office at:

Sussex County: #856-7303
Kent County: #730-4000 or #857-6426

Happy Holidays, readers! May your holiday be filled with lots of laughter and happiness!