Published on 11/09/06

Favorite holiday plants perfect for gift giving

University of Georgia

Poinsettias, Christmas cactuses and African violets are the most common plants given over the holiday season. A University of Georgia expert offers tips for caring for these seasonal favorites.

Poinsettias need bright but indirect light and ample watering. Take care not to overwater this holiday tradition.

"When I was in charge of our church's poinsettia tree, I found that a thorough watering when the soil felt dry to the touch did much better than frequent watering," said Jim Crawford, a UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator.

"The biggest problem I faced was that the light in the sanctuary wasn't sufficient during the week unless the shutters were wide open," he said.

Christmas, or holiday, cactus usually requires bright sunlight and moderate moisture. A spot near a south-facing window, Crawford said, is the perfect place for this seasonal plant.

African violets need good light in order to bloom, he said. Place them in east- and west-facing windows. Water them with warm water, because cold water can cause leaf spots.

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.