Top 4 Houseplants to Give and Get this Holiday Season

There’s so much to love about the holiday season — the cooking and baking, the time spent with family and friends, and the festive plants. Poinsettias or a blooming Christmas cactus are compact yet boast of holiday spirit. The more plants, the merrier!

With just a little care, holiday houseplants can continue to thrive throughout the year. Knowing how to care for them helps to keep them beautiful. Repot later if needed.

So whether you’re getting or giving holiday houseplants, use these tips to help keep them blooming.

How to Care for Holiday Favorites

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Poinsettia: No other plant quite marks the beginning of the holiday season like the poinsettia. With more than 100 varieties available today in colors of red, white, pink and more, this plant can be found just about everywhere during the holidays.

First things first, don’t let poinsettias get cold on the ride home from the store. Keep trips and exposure to cold as short as possible. Once home, these cheery plants thrive on six hours of indirect light a day away from cold drafts and need proper watering. When the plant needs water, remove the decorative foil and let soak in a few inches of water for an hour or so. Let excess drain and rewrap.

Tip: Take the poinsettia out of its foil and place it in a decorative container.

Norfolk Island pine: A mini Christmas tree, this festive plant looks lovely when adorned with mini lights and homemade ornaments or just plain on its own.

Give pines about six to eight hours of light per day. Any less and lower branches are likely to drop. Water when dry to the touch. Fertilize Norfolk Island pines bi-monthly with our new liquid houseplant fertilizer to keep them happy and healthy.

Tip: Pines can last for years and be decorated for other seasons as well!

christmas-cactus

Christmas cactus: Though this cactus is known for blooming around Christmas, it’ll stay strong throughout the year and periodically rebloom. It’s ruffled flowers range in color from reds to pinks to oranges and creams.

Give this plant bright indirect light and place outdoors in a semi-shady spot during summer months. Allow plant to become slightly dry between waterings.  Keeps this holiday plant reblooming for years to come by giving it a rest during the fall and placining it in the dark for about six to eight weeks, encouraging new blooms.

Tip: No matter how diligent you are about care, bloom time may vary based on variety. Whether or not it blooms in time for the holidays, you’ll still have winter blooms to enjoy.

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Cyclamen: Cyclamen’s bright flowers in pink, white or red are great for adding a pop of color where you need it. With the right conditions, they can bloom for more than eight weeks.

Cyclamen likes light, but not super-bright light. Keep the temperature consistent and deadhead spent flowers and leaves. Pour water in a saucer and let the plant absorb it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tip: During the summer, cyclamen’s foliage turns yellow and dies back. This is their dormant period when they’re storing energy for the next flowering season.

Any houseplant can grow with the proper care. Learn how here.

Five Reasons to be Thankful for Houseplants

While you’re counting your blessings and listing those things you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to include houseplants. Indoor plants provide a pop of color and interesting texture to any space.

Houseplants are more than just a pretty face, though. They impact our everyday lives by cleaning the air and reducing stress. Give houseplants everything they need to grow and they’ll pay you back.

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Here are the Top Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Houseplants

1. Indoor Plants Purify the Air

Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher — and in some cases 10 times more polluted — than outdoor air. Houseplants such as bromeliads, spider plants and dracaena, remove the harmful compounds frequently found in homes and offices, produced by cleaning supplies, paint, furniture glue and nail polish remover.

2. Houseplants help us relax

Researchers have found that being around plants—especially indoors, can reduce stress and help us feel happier and more relaxed. You can never have too many houseplants so choose one, or 10 that work for you.

3. Plants Make Us Smarter

Having a plant around can enhance learning abilities by improving our concentration, focus and problem-solving skills. Make sure to place houseplant in home offices, studying spaces and at work.

4. They Improve Our Physical Health

Plants offer physical benefits, too. One study found that adding plants to office spaces reduces headaches, coughs and sore throats. And employees typically use fewer sick days.

Know someone in the hospital? Bring them a plant. A Kansas State University studied found that patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety and are discharged sooner.

5. They’re easy to care for

Seniors feel better and more fulfilled when they take care of houseplants (or pets). Keeping plants healthy, helps make us more socially connected and happy. There’s a perfect plant out there for anyone, and certain plants, such as sansevieria and zz plant, are surprisingly low maintenance .

Show gratitude for your favorite plants by giving them proper care. Learn how here.

How to Care for Succulents and Cacti in Winter

Succulents and cacti are great low-maintenance plants that brighten up the indoors, even during winter’s darkest days. Their unusual shapes and textures add visual interest to any table or windowsill, and with the right care, they’ll stay just fine throughout the long, cold season.

Succulents and cacti make for good houseplants year-round. In winter, plants only need a little light and occasional watering to keep them going. Most cacti and succulents go dormant by the time fall comes around, meaning they will stop growing when temperatures and daylight drop.

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5 Ways to Care for Cacti and Succulents during Winter:

1. Make your cacti or succulent happy by placing the dormant plant in an area where it will thrive. Succulents need less light during the winter and will survive when given indirect light, too. For the best results, make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light a day. Place are happiest near a south or east facing window.

2. Succulents typically grow in sandy, well-drained soil. Use Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix to give your plant what it needs. Succulents can’t stand overly moist soil, so make sure containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to exit.

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3. Control the temperature. Succulents won’t mind temperatures as low as 50 to 55 degrees, but few will tolerate colder.

4. Succulents need deep watering, but will not use as much water as when they’re experiencing active growth. Water sparingly and from the top, allowing water to trickle through to the bottom. Do not let plants sit in water for a long time. Make sure to keep water off the body of the cactus, it can contribute to rot.

5. Check for pests. Look at leaves monthly for aphids and mealy bugs. If found, move the infested plant away from others and mist with a mixture of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.

 

No green thumb? No worries? Learn more about caring for cacti and succulents.

6 Steps to Keep African Violets Blooming

The colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

They’re known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.

Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they grow very easily. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding, and you’ll be blooming in no time!

he colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

Choosing and Caring for African Violets:

1. Start off healthy. Choose a plant with bright emerald leaves and the flower color that you want. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

2. The right light. The most common reason African violets don’t bloom is because they aren’t getting enough light. African violets need indirect sunlight, direct can burn the leaves. Choose a north- or east- facing window for best results. Keep plants away from cold glass and rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light. Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.

3. Keep warm. African violets prefer the same temperatures most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F during the day, and around 65–70°F at night.

4. Water from below. Fill the saucer using room temperature water. Let sit for about an hour and then pour excess water out. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.

5. Fertilize with Espoma’s new liquid Violet! Indoor houseplant food every 2-4 weeks in spring, summer and fall.

6. Think before replanting. African violets only bloom when they’re root bound. When it is time to repot, be sure to use an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets, such as Espoma’s African Violet Mix. They flower best in small pots — choose one that’s about a third of the diameter of their leaf spread.

Now that you’re African violet is off to a great start, it’s time to care for your other houseplants!    

Prep Gardens for Frost

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze. Now that your garden has transformed for fall, it’s time to shield it.

If the forecast calls for a cold front or frost, it can actually improve the flavor of many cool weather greens, such as spinach, collards, and kale.

While we can’t control the weather, we can protect plants now before they get into trouble.

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

Protect Plants from a Frost:

1. Water your plants the night before a frost. Wet soil releases moisture in the air, which raises the temperature and keeps plants warmer throughout the night.

2. Cover plants with an old sheet, blanket, cardboard boxes or row covers. Row covers can add more than a month to the fall growing season. Use bricks, large stones or landscape pins to anchor covers to the ground. Remove covers as soon as the weather warms up.

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

3. Cover individual plants with an inverted bucket or flower pot. Uncover as soon as the temperature rises above freezing.

4. If you haven’t brought all your container plants inside yet, now is the time to do so. Or, you can simply move large potted plants closer to the house or into direct sun.

If a freeze does do some damage to your garden, don’t fret! Sometimes only a few parts of a plant are injured, and it will continue to grow.