Christmas Gardening Gift plants Houseplants Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Getting Your Christmas Plants to Rebloom

Christmas may be over, but your Christmas plants are still alive.

There is nothing wrong with tossing a Christmas plant into the compost after it has finished flowering if you don’t feel like going any further. No need to feel guilty about this: the vast majority of the millions of Christmas plants sold each year won’t survive to see a second Christmas, so your plant will not be alone. But if you do feel like trying to make yours bloom again, here are a few tips.

Improve the Growing Conditions

It’s largely how you treat a Christmas plant after the holiday season that will ensure it will be in good enough shape to bloom again next winter. Once it’s role as a holiday decoration is over, keep watering it as necessary, but do increase the light your plant receives. Very bright light and even full sun will be necessary to get most Christmas plants to bloom again, so move it to the brightest window you have for the rest of the winter. As days get longer and hotter come spring, it may be necessary to move it back from the very sunniest windows, but it should still get as much light as you can muster. And you can even place the plant outside for the summer if possible.

Note that light your plant receives will increase naturally as the days lengthen, especially starting in March, and this will help stimulate new growth. And since your plant is now growing, you can fertilize it. From then to September, therefore, feed using an all-purpose fertilizer according to the instructions on the label: this will help give you a more vigorous plant..

A severe pruning in spring or early summer will give a more compact poinsettia next winter.

Don’t hesitate to cut back Christmas plants with upright branches (poinsettias, kalanchoes, etc.) if they’re become too leggy. Do this in spring or early summer, but no later than the end of July, because if you prune too late in the season, the newly-produced branches may not be mature enough to bloom.

Short Days

Several Christmas plants (poinsettia, Christmas cactus and Christmas kalanchoe, for example) need short days in the fall in order to bloom in time for the holidays. Put them in a room that is not artificially illuminated at night and they will flower without any special treatment. You can also stick them in a cupboard at 6 pm each evening and put them back in a sunny spot at 8 am each morning, but that takes a lot of attention because you’ll have to repeat it daily for about two months.

Read Reblooming a Poinsettia the Laidback Way for more info on how to get a poinsettia to reflower.


Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

The amaryllis (Hippeastrum) differs from other Christmas plants in that it prefers to go completely dormant in September, so stop watering it entirely at that time. When the foliage has completely yellowed, cut it off. Since the plant is now dormant, it can be placed in a cupboard or closet or other dark spot if you want (most sources insist on that), but in fact, that isn’t really necessary. In the wild, amaryllises grow in full sun all year long and certainly don’t move to a shadier spot while they’re dormant! Just don’t water it for two to three months, period, no matter where it is placed, until new shoots start to appear, indicating that the plant is ready to bloom again. From then on, move the plant to a bright window and start watering again.

Read Now is the Time to Get Your Amaryllis to Rebloom for more information.

The Most Laidback Tip of All!

But what is the best way to ensure that a Christmas plant blooms in time for the holidays next year? Simply buy a new plant already in bud or flower come December! After all, your conditions will never be as perfect as those of the grower who produces thousands of Christmas plants every year!20170102a

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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