Punch list: Holiday plant care, and getting a new garden party started

Gardeners of all levels make few New Year resolutions. We don’t need to, since the time and energy involved in gardening seem effortless. We’re talking flowers, fruit and fun outdoors.

First, let’s focus on holiday plant care, then we’ll get this new garden party season started.

Post-Holiday Plant Care

Caring for seasonal plants like amaryllis, Norfolk pine and poinsettias past the holiday season makes sense if you’re willing to provide the growing conditions and care they need. If not, or if they are looking unhealthy and have lost their charm, don’t stress tossing, composting or giving them a new home. Christmas cactus is an easy year-round indoor plant; keep it.
Cut off amaryllis blooms after they fade but wait to cut down the green stalk until it has turned yellow, this forces energy back in the bulb. Water when the top two inches are dry and fertilize every few weeks. It can be moved outdoors after the last frost or kept indoors and treated as a house plant until next fall, when it needs several weeks to rest (in a dark place) before coaxing it back to growth with water and light.
Keep Norfolk pine and poinsettias watered as needed (when the top inch of soil medium dries); drain any excess water from the tray. Keep plants from cold drafts and near bright light, but not direct sun. Group plants together for more humidity. Fertilize Norfolk pines every four to six months. Use time-released balanced fertilizers or liquid at half strength to keep them dark green and growing. Poinsettias will lose their color in late winter, often by mid- to late March. As they grow side shoots, prune old branches but keep a few leaves for ongoing photosynthesis. Repot with fresh potting soil and added fertilizer near summer and treat as a houseplant or keep outdoors in the summer (never below 55 degrees). Starting around October, they need to be given 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness every night to develop color.

Get Ready for the New Gardening Season

If you are new to Colorado, you’ve already noticed our elevation, dry climate and low humidity. Our slow-draining alkaline soils or quick-draining sandy soils can be very challenging, even for experienced Colorado gardeners. One of the best ways to learn how to manage and find success in our growing conditions is to take classes or attend seminars and workshops.

Register soon for garden classes; many are free or low cost

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle


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