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A word from UGA Extension
How to care for gift and holiday plants
Ingram Sam
Sam Ingram

I know I may have lost many with the title of this article, but the holidays are not that far away and we need to be thinking about how to care for those plants we purchase for gifts or ourselves.

Flowering and foliage plants can make welcomed gifts. How long they remain attractive may be directly related to the care and handling they are given. Below are some points to consider for your holiday plants:

Proper watering: large plants in small pots dry out quickly, so watering may be more frequent. Over-watering can also cause issue. Potted plants should not be watered until the soil is dry to the touch. Some plants are often delivered in waterproof container or wrapped in foil. If possible, remove these covers to promote good drainage.

Adequate light: place most plants where they will receive high levels of indirect light. In the absence of light, most plants can be placed under lamps.

Temperature: Most homes temperatures (60-75 F) are satisfactory. Cooler temperatures lengthen the life of flowering plants, while high temperatures will usually shorten display life.

Below are some common holiday and gifts plants and tips for care:

African violet: Use warm water, subjective to root rot from overwatering. Poor flowering is often associated with insufficient light. East and west-facing windowsills are some of the best locations for violets.

Holiday cactus: Three related plants look like Christmas cacti. The three types bloom at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. They require bright sunlight and moderate moisture. South-facing windows are excellent places for these cacti. After six weeks of holiday blooming, remove spent flowers and apply household fertilizer.

Chrysanthemum: Two types are sold, pot mums (killed by frost) and garden mums. Garden mums are generally available as a flowering pot plant. They can be planted outdoors and are hardy through winter.

Poinsetta: Bright indirect light and frequent watering is essential. Don’t allow the plants to wilt, but watering too often can damage roots.

For more information or questions, contact Effingham Extension agent, Sam Ingram at 754-8040 or

Compost class on Oct. 6 at the Effingham County Extension office is still taking participants. Remember only the first 30 people are guaranteed a spot.