Holiday Plants: Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis

Dennis Morgan


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Holiday plants are traditional gifts that can be enjoyed long after the Christmas season is over. How do we care for them now?

Three longtime favorites—the poinsettia, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis—require similar care and can be coaxed into blooming for future holiday seasons.


Red is the color of choice for the popular poinsettia, but white, pink, yellow, and bicolor varieties are gaining favor. To rejuvenate your poinsettia for next year’s holiday season, move it outside when night temperatures are not apt to fall much below 50°F (10°C) and prune to keep it bushy and compact. To initiate flowering, the poinsettia needs long nights in complete darkness starting in early October. Cover the plant with a cardboard box or keep it in a closet from about 5 P.M. to 8 A.M. and water sparingly. When buds form in early December, stop the dark treatment.

Click the pretty poinsettia below to share it with your family or a friend!

Christmas Cacti

Like poinsettias, Christmas cacti are available in a kaleidoscope of colors including red, white, pink, cream, and fuchsia. Long-lived, they may produce bountiful blooms for 20 to 30 Christmases to come. You can force a Christmas cactus into bloom in much the same way as a poinsettia, by providing long nights starting around October 1. You can also persuade it to flower by subjecting it to cool night temperatures of 50° to 55°F (10° to 13°C) starting in early November.

Share this photo of a Christmas cacti!


Although the amaryllis can be purchased at any stage of development, for many the real fun is growing their own plant from a bulb. Most amaryllis bulbs are sold already potted and with complete growing instructions. Once watering is started, you can expect magnificent lilylike blooms of red, pink, white, or orange in four to six weeks. After flowering, grow the amaryllis as a foliage plant until the leaves turn yellow. Then store the potted bulb on its side in a cool, dark room or basement to rest for eight to ten weeks. When new growth appears, repot the bulb and return it to the light to start the cycle again.

Share this photo of an amaryllis!

 Once your holiday plants are back on track, display them away from drafts in a bright room, but not in direct sunlight; they all prefer 60° to 70°F (16° to 21°C) temperatures and like moist but not soggy soil. As with many of us, these colorful plants are already looking forward to next year’s holiday season.

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How often and how much water

How often and how much water should be given to a 2-3 ft Poinsettia ?

Hi Thomas, Water the

Hi Thomas,

Water the poinsettia when the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep the soil damp but not too wet.

Does one have to be concerned

Does one have to be concerned with planting an amaryllis by the phase of the moon to get good growth and flowers? If so, which phase? I am a little behind on getting my amaryllises from previous years planted, but is there a "best" day to plant them sometime soon?

Hi Pam, We suggest to plant

Hi Pam,
We suggest to plant flowering bulbs when the Moon is waning. That is after the Moon is full and before it is new again. This month you can plant after Dec. 6.

I kept my poinsettia outside

I kept my poinsettia outside all summer , pruned it once around July 4th to make it more compact , when the nites promised frost I moved it in on a south facing porch back out during the warm fall days . One day I noticed some of the leaves starting to color and by Xmas it was beautiful ! I did not do the covering with a box or the closet treatment . Nature did it for me ! looking forward to the next year with the same treatment :-)

I have my poinsettias in a

I have my poinsettias in a south facing window and water them with one cup of water once a week. They are 3 years old and are blooming.

Tip of the day: To have

Tip of the day: To have beautiful Poinsettias without the constant watering, apply a product called Driwater. This gelled water will water your Poinsettia for the whole month. It's a real life saver. You can buy it on or I also found it on Amazon.

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