Care of Holiday Plants

Source(s): Willie Chance, UGA Extension Agent, Houston County.

Live Holiday gift plants require care to bloom and maintain health.


Poinsettias need a daytime temperature of 65 to70 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce this to low 60’s at night. Put poinsettias in bright light but never in full sun. Select areas where the plant will not dry out. If placed in a window, remove it at night so it will not get too cold. Let the soil surface dry slightly between waterings and then water until it runs out of the bottom of the pot.

Poinsettias are very sensitive to environment. Drafts, cold, heat, dim light, low humidity or improper watering may cause these plants to wilt or shed leaves and flowers.

Amaryllis require bright light, cool conditions and moist soils like other flowering plants. Bulbs bloom four to six weeks after planting. Individual flowers last three to four days but a plant may have two flower stalks with three to four flowers per stalk.

To re-bloom an amaryllis, let the leaves grow normally in a well-lit warm location. Put them outside in the spring and summer. Fertilize and water as needed. Once leaves begin to die back, slowly and eventually stop watering. Store the bulb in a cool, dry place for four to eight weeks before beginning growth again by watering.

Holiday Cacti come in three types which bloom at different times of the year. Depending on type, they flower at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. All three require bright light, well-drained soils and moderate moisture levels. South facing windows are good places for holiday cacti. After bloom, remove faded flowers and fertilize. They can be grown outside in spring and summer in shady locations. Stem pieces of three segments or more root easily.

Holiday cacti flower based on day length and temperature so they should bloom at the same time every year. Strong artificial lighting and high temperatures can delay or prevent bloom. You may need to restrict very bright artificial lights at night during the time of blossom development (September and October for Thanksgiving and Christmas Cacti or February and March for Easter Cacti). Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti need 12 to 14 hours of uninterrupted dark during the night for about six weeks to develop blooms. During bloom development keep temperatures cool – 55 to 65 degrees at night and 5 to 10 degrees higher in the day. Keep the plants slightly on the dry side. Return slowly to normal watering after flower buds develop. Sudden changes in environment may cause the plant to shed flower buds.


  • Allison Perkins, Bartow County Agent, The University of Georgia.
  • Paul Pugliese, Cherokee County Agent, The University of Georgia.
  • Mary Carol Sheffield, Paulding County Agent, The University of Georgia.

Center Publication Number: 229

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