After the holidays are over, you may wonder what to do with the seasonal plants you’ve used to decorate your home. Some can be kept as houseplants or planted into the landscape; others are best treated like cut flowers and discarded after they run their course.
The most popular holiday plant is the poinsettia. If you believe you could save your poinsettias, grow them over the summer and have big beautiful blooming poinsettias for next Christmas, it’s just not going to happen, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.
“After the holidays are over, throw them in your compost pile and don’t you feel a bit guilty about it,” Gill says. “These plants were not meant to be a permanent part of your plant collection.”
On the other hand, seasonal plants you can keep include cyclamens, holiday cactuses, Norfolk Island pines and amaryllises.
Cyclamens will continue blooming into spring next to a bright window and kept evenly moist, Gill says. You can put them outside, too, as long as temperatures don’t dip below 20. Once cold weather is past, you can put them in a shady spot on a patio or porch and bring them back indoors next year.
Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter cactuses and their various hybrids will come back and bloom year after year as house plants. After cactuses finish flowering, they produce new vegetative growth that helps buds develop for the next bloom cycle. Water and fertilize the plants more during this active growth period.
In mid-August, water and fertilize less to harden off the new growth and increase the opportunity for bud development in the fall.
The Norfolk Island pine is often used as a living, indoor Christmas tree.
After Christmas, keep the tree in its pot in a sunny spot outside because they do not like being indoors, and the cold of winter will not bother them, says AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. Because it’s not hardy, it must be protected from a freeze.
Norfolk Island pines do very well outdoors during the frost-free time of year in Louisiana, Owings says.
Amaryllis bulbs can be planted in the garden in March or April, and they will make long-lived plants that bloom each spring, Owings says. These plants thrive in any reasonably good garden soil with adequate drainage and do well in full sun to part shade.
Once planted and established, amaryllis can be left alone for several years.
Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.