So you’ve filled the house with lovely Christmas houseplants and now need to provide the care needed to keep them looking their best? Or maybe you plan to give a houseplant as a present and want to pass on some tips to help it survive? A beautiful flowering azalea or festive red poinsettia certainly makes a great gift and will last so much longer than a bunch of flowers – when cared for correctly.
The two things that all winter flowering houseplants need are light and water. Foliage plants will be happy sitting in a fairly dim spot but not flowering plants who in such a position will quickly droop and curl up their toes.
Apart from plenty of light and a regular drink of water different species of plant do need slightly different care.
Cyclamen need a cool, light spot with the temperature fairly constant of 10 – 16C. A conservatory or well-lit hallway are perfect. A cost sitting-room with a log fire is far from perfect! Water your cyclamen once or twice a week by giving it a good soak and allowing it to drain. Don’t allow the plant to sit in water as it will simply collapse and die. As the flowers die simply pull them out with a sharp tug. When flowering ends dry the plant out and start watering again in August.
Azalea like the same conditions as cyclamen – cool and light. Don’t allow the plant to dry out, it will need watering 2 or 3 times a week, ideally with rain water or water from the kettle that has boiled and then cooled. Give the plant a good soak and then allow the water to drain. Azaleas grow best when potbound but if you feel it needs repotting then wait until spring and use ericaceous compost. During the summer stand the pot outside in a shady spot.
The epitome of the Christmas houseplant, poinsettia like a warm and slightly humid atmosphere. Let the surface of the soil dry out and then water, probably twice a week, giving a good soak and then allowing the pot to drain. After Christmas the best place for a failing poinsettia is probably the compost heap but if you are really keen then prune the stems back and allow the pot to dry out. After 6 weeks repot the plant and start to water. In September put the plant in complete darkness for 12 hours overnight, bringing it back into light during the day. Do this daily until November and the plant may look good enough to go on display again. Or it may still be best suited for the compost bin. Good luck!
Keep in medium light at a temperature between 16-21C. Water twice a week. After flowering move to somewhere cooler and reduce the watering to once a week. The plant will benefit from standing outside during the summer but bring it back indoors in September.
Amaryllis, or Hippeastrum, like to be kept in a very well lit warm position. Water sparingly until the flower spike is well above the bulb and then water once or twice a week. After flowering allow the flower spike to die off before removing it and keep the pot fairly dry. In October start watering twice a week again and hopefully the bulb will flower again.
Paperwhite narcissus and hyacinths are popular forced bulbs for the Christmas period. They look pretty and smell wonderful! Keep them in a light spot in a temperature of 10-18C and water twice a week. The bulbs may be good for next year but it is probably better to start again with fresh ones.