Holiday Houseplants

What better way to enjoy this time of year than use it as an excuse to buy more plants! Poinsettias, amaryllis, paper whites, cyclamen, Norfolk Island pines, Christmas cactus, kalanchoe, rosemary trees or even a lucky bamboo or two can usually be found at your local nursery or big box store, and usually even includes some festive wrapping. Whether you are giving them as a gift or enjoying them in your own home, a holiday houseplant is always a win!

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the most popular flowering plant sold in the United States.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the most popular flowering plant sold in the United States.
Kerrie Roach, ©2018, Clemson Extension

Florist cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is a tuberous potted plant that flowers during the winter months.

Florist cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is a tuberous potted plant that flowers during the winter months.
Kerrie Roach, ©2018, Clemson Extension

The Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is native to Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean and is commonly used as a house plant in the US.

The Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is native to Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean and is commonly used as a house plant in the US.
Kerrie Roach, ©2018, Clemson Extension

When selecting, look for healthy, disease and insect free plants. Make sure that pretty foil wrapper is not holding water. Pick plants with buds that are full and just beginning to open so that you can enjoy their beauty all season. Shy away from the largest plants or ones with yellowing leaf margins/needles, and choose a plant, that while it may be smaller, is healthy and has room to grow.

Once you get the plant home, finding the perfect spot is not only a decision of design, but make sure you consider the requirements of the plant. Think about the light, airflow, container, and any pets or children that might be around. Once you find the perfect spot, remember to water your new plant. Use indictors such as soil moisture and leaf turgor (stiffness) to know when it is time to water. Make sure the drainage is adequate, and water is not collecting at the base of the plant. See HGIC 1450, Indoor Plants – Cleaning, Fertilizing, Containers & Light Requirements, for more tips and tricks for houseplant care.

Once the holidays are over, it is decision time. Some of the houseplants will happily remain indoors and re-bloom next year with only a little encouragement. Others, such as a rosemary tree can be planted outside in the springtime. While my grandmother will try to tell you to save that poinsettia… I say the headache and scraggly plant is not going to be worth it, so support the industry and buy a new one next year!

For more information on holiday houseplants, refer to the following:

HGIC 1561, Poinsettia

HGIC 1551, Amaryllis

HGIC 1564, Cyclamen

HGIC 1554, Thanksgiving & Christmas Cacti

HGIC 1563, Kalanchoe

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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