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..
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.
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.
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!