A HOLIDAY POINSETTIA is basically a semi-durable floral arrangement with roots. Tuck it in among your resident houseplants for a spot of color and cheer. But please, remove any foil or cellophane wrapping — what was festive in December looks a bit forced in January. Enjoy the display until your plant begins to look peaky, then give it a dignified toss into the compost.



Amaryllis produce spectacular trumpet-shaped blooms atop stalks that can reach 24 to 30 inches tall, followed by strappy, deep-green leaves. Like poinsettias, amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are native to a warm growing region and like a cozy, draft-free location in bright light. Keeping your plant actively growing after flowering is the trick to getting the bulb to rebloom next year. The more leaves produced over the course of the growing season, the better chance you’ll have of a repeat performance.

Remove individual flowers as they fade, but leave the green stem until it withers naturally. Like the leaves, the stem helps refuel the bulb through photosynthesis. Once all danger of frost is past, your amaryllis will thrive outdoors in bright but indirect light with regular water and feeding.

At the end of August, stop watering it, bring the plant indoors to a dark location and allow the foliage to go dormant. In late October, tip the bulb out of its container; it should be firm with no soft spots or signs of decay. Remove faded foliage, and trim any dead roots.

Amaryllis like growing in close conditions, so repot the bulb back into the same container with fresh potting mix so that two-thirds of the bulb is above the soil line, and water well to settle the roots. Now you wait. New growth will emerge within a few weeks — whether the bulb produces a bloom stalk depends on how effectively the plant restored its energy after blooming.


Unlike the previous examples, Christmas cactus and florist cyclamen are better suited to cool Pacific Northwest conditions. Schlumbergera is the botanical name for a variety of plants that go by many names — depending on when it blooms, your plant might be labeled a Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus.

My plants live indoors year-round, but, like amaryllis, you can move your Schlumbergera outdoors during the growing season. Schlumbergera are native to Brazil, where they grow in the shade and high humidity of mountainous rainforests. Provide indirect light along with regular water and feeding. Cool temperatures and shorter days trigger bud formation in late fall, but be sure to bring your plants indoors before first frost. While late fall and winter are the primary bloom season, you’ll get a lighter secondary round of blooms in late spring triggered by similar light levels and cool temps.

Most resources say florist cyclamen are fussy about blooming in warm indoor temps, but if you’ve got a sunroom, an enclosed porch or (like me) a drafty old house, I encourage you to give this lovely, fragrant plant a try. Bright indirect sunlight and cool temperatures are essential to the life of your cyclamen.

An east-facing (single-pane) window with a generous sill provides ideal conditions for a plant that I purchased more than a year ago. Water the plant when the potting mix is dry to the touch, and fertilize as you do other indoor plants. My plant bloomed from Thanksgiving well into spring, and the foliage persisted until the plant went dormant in late summer, at which point I placed it on my basement potting bench to watch — no watering. When new leaves begin to appear in early October, I put the plant under fluorescent light and began watering again. I was delighted when blooms followed shortly.