Survival tips for Christmas houseplants

1 CommentSaturday, 26 November 2016  |  Alison

Have you ever been given a poinsettia in December, to have it look pristine until Boxing Day and then shed its limp leaves all over the carpet? 

Well, here is the Brookside Nursery guide to help you keep some of the most popular Christmas houseplants for longer than a week or two.

Poinsettias, gardenias, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, azaleas and orchids (Phalaenopsis & Cymbidiums) are some of the best known houseplants given during the festive season. 

  • Temperature fluctuations are one of the main issues when looking after Christmas-flowering houseplants.  Too much cold or too much warmth can be equally devastating for plants and as they mostly hail from humid tropical parts of the globe it pays to give them a little coddling.
  • Firstly, buy plants from a reputable nursery or garden centre where they will have been kept at optimum conditions.  Buying more cheaply from a market stall may seem appealing but indoor plants cannot cope with cold temperatures of winter.

  • When transporting them, especially poinsettias, use bubble wrap around the whole plant or put them inside a cardboard box.  This will help to protect them from the cold in a car boot on a long journey.
  • Poinsettias, Gardenias and Phalaenopsis orchids don’t like a draught or being placed above a radiator but a well-lit and warm room is ideal.  Water when the top of the compost looks dry but don’t allow them to dry out completely.
  • Cymbidium orchids will tolerate cooler conditions so a north facing room out of full sun will suit them.
  • Azaleas like bright, cool conditions.  As they like some humidity, place the pot onto a tray with some small pebbles and keep this topped up with water. (Rainwater is best, at room temperature).  Azaleas tend to die if the compost is allowed to dry out so it is worth looking after them.
  • Christmas flowering cactus plants are often passed down through the generations as they are relatively long lived plants.   Originating in coastal mountains of S.E. Brazil, these cactus thrive on a drenching and then being left to almost dry out, except when in full flower.   Overwatering will result in limp leaves that then drop off, so only water when the top layers of compost are dry.The Christmas cactus has a naturally trailing habit and can look stunning in a hanging basket.

So now, whilst you are enjoying the festivities, your Christmas houseplants should too!


Alan Taylor
Wednesday, 30 November 2016  |  15:55

Very helpful, thank you. Even though I'm a well experienced gardener, my poinsettias rarely last more than 2 weeks.

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