Indoor plants: A sustainable gift option this year

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The holiday season is one of the most popular times of the year for buying and giving indoor plants. Because most of these plants have a limited lifespan or bloom time, proper care of these plants is essential in determining how long they will survive and retain their appearance,” said Heath Wesley, Pike County Extension coordinator.

“When buying indoor plants at Christmastime or any time of year, check the plants thoroughly before purchasing for insect or disease problems,” Wesley said. “Plants need to be monitored once a day and watered only when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Apply water directly to the soil since misting leaves can promote disease.

“Normal room temperatures of 60-75 degrees are fine for most plants but avoid sudden temperature changes and don’t place plants near air vents, outside doors, or drafty windows.”

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Most indoor holiday plants prefer large amounts of indirect light so they should be placed in a room that receives lots of natural sunlight during the day although artificial light can be substituted if this is not possible, Wesley said.

Holiday cactus, poinsettias and African violets are the most popular plants for holiday giving.

Poinsettias are popular plants for decorating and for gifts at Christmastime.

“There are many varieties of poinsettias available in colors of pink, red, white or speckled versions of these colors,” Wesley said.

“When picking out a poinsettia select plants that have foliage all the way to the base of the plant, have no more than 25 percent of the yellow flowers open, and those without yellowed or flattened foliage.

“African violets are great indoor plants that will flower year around and are extremely easy to care for. They need lots of light for flower production and love east and west facing windows. You should water African violets when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch but don’t allow plants to wilt or soil to become rock hard before watering and use only warm water since cold water can produce leaf spots.”

The holiday cactus is popular gift at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

“These are beautiful plants and are named for the time of year when they natively bloom,” Wesley said. “They require night temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees and 13 hours or more on continuous darkness each day before they will bloom. Then these plants are said to thrive in south facing window. After they bloom, you need to remove the flowers.”

Wesley said plants are gifts that keep on giving but, before selecting a plant as a gift, keep in mind that the one who receives the gift will be the one to care for it.

Contact the Pike County Extension office at 566-0985 for more information on seasonal plants and their care or visit the office on South Three Notch Street in downtown Troy.