80314thumbIt seems like such a waste that so many of the prettiest blooming plants are generally regarded as temporary. They are grown in the most synthetic of environments, forced into bloom, sold at their prime, and kept as potted plants just long enough to finish their bloom cycle. When their bloom deteriorates, they typically get discarded, or planted out into the garden where they rarely survive.

Poinsettias epitomize these flowering potted plants, which are known in the nursery industry simply as pot plants. Almost all of us have given or received them as gifts or decorated our home with them prior to Christmas. Although they are not considered to be annuals, few survive as houseplants, and almost none survive in the garden. No one wants to admit to what happens to the rest.

Okay, so it is not really a big loss. Poinsettias do not do well here anyway; and even if they survive, they are not as appealing in the landscape as they are as pot plants. What about all the others? Easter lilies, chrysanthemums, amaryllis, hydrangeas, orchids, azaleas, miniature roses, kalanchoes and even a few evergreens and living Christmas trees are all grown as forced potted plants.

It is important to be aware that all of these forced plants were grown in very synthetic environments, in which temperature, humidity and perhaps even day length were manipulated to coerce the plants to bloom, or for evergreens to be as lush as they are. Some were stunted with growth regulators. Recovering from such manipulation takes some time and effort, but for most, it is possible.

Of course, they all have their own personalities, and require different sorts of pampering. Some only need their old flowers to be pruned away, and will be able to produce new foliage that is adapted to their new environment. Amaryllis starts out without foliage, so has the advantage of making all new foliage after bloom. Chrysanthemum will eventually want to be cut back to favor new basal foliage. Easter lily foliage should be left while it dies back slowly until dormancy. New foliage grows next year.

12 thoughts on “Potted Plants Going To Pot

  1. That was interesting and so true. How many plants do we buy to make it look better at home, only to discard them after the flower. For me all the more interesting. I love my dead flowered plants because then the experiment can begin Kalanchoe -just keep it alive and it will continue to flower. Poinsettia – feed it, and it will grow and make leaves. Want colourful leaves – that is difficult, but keep a strict regime with light and dark and it might happen. Just put it in the closet daily at the same time and take it out again at the same time. You might be lucky. If you succeed with reflowering an amaryllis then carry on, it works. There are enough instructions on Internet. For me the interesting part of plants is keeping them alive and look what can happen. And don’t throw away your bromelia, give it water and fertiliser. You might see the baby bromelia shoots appearing at the junctions of the leaves which will grow and flower perhaps. Plant life can be exciting, don’t give up. Probably not so interesting for the gardening stores, they want you to buy new plants.

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    1. Well, that is important too. So many of the modern garden varieties of plants are weaker than the more reliable older varieties. They are designed to look flashy, bu then not survive afterward. That is tolerable for some people, but those who are more serious about horticulture want to keep things alive.


  2. I have discovered Anthuriums, starting with one that I inherited from my mother and I now have five altogether, all on our front patio next to my Poinsettia. They all get a thorough watering once every 10 days – 2 weeks and seem to like that.

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  3. Phalaenopsis orchids are good value. They bloom for weeks, have a little rest and then start again. I can never get hippeastrums to reflower but that is my carelessness, lots of people do. Hyacinth flowers become smaller when planted out but I think that is an improvement. The same goes for over -hybridised primroses. As for poinsettias, I loathe them.

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    1. I would happen to like poinsettias for my own garden, but would never recommend that anyone else plant them out into the garden. I just happen to like them because I remember them from when I was young. They are not at all pretty. Phalaenopsis is a good value for those of us who continue to grow them. Even if they bloom only once, they are probably worth the expense. However, it is sad that the vast majority of them get discarded after their first bloom.


      1. My phalaenopsis last for years, and since they have been micropropagated they are really cheap.
        It’s funny about plant prejudices, where do they come from? I hate hypericum but I really don’t know why. I think I dislike poinsettias because they look so artificial, specially all the new colours you get now.

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      2. Oh, they ARE like artificial, when one considers what goes into growing them. Those that survive the procedure and grow naturally are not even attractive. One can not help but wonder why someone would think that it would be a good idea to make them a traditional flower for Christmas. (Although, I still like them.) I happen to dislike Heavenly bamboo because almost all of it get ruined by gardeners. I would grow it in my own garden just to enjoy it in its natural form.

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  4. Interesting post. I discarded my poinsettia because I read they would not thrive and were raised in an environment I could not provide, but I felt very bad about it. At the time, they were growing fine and looked good. Just many weeks past the holidays.

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  5. I have had a lot of success with my chrysanthemums. In fact, I will get a couple of blooms a year, in Spring and Fall. They start looking ragged once it gets really cold, but a quick pruning saves the day. What’s even more frustrating about all of this is that many of these plants are marketed as annuals when they are actually perennials, only because their life expectancy is anticipated to be short due to poor care. So sad!

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    1. It is wasteful! It is ridiculous while ‘sustainability’ is such a fad. Some are marketed as ‘organic’ and ‘grown with less water’. I don’t know what it is less than, but it sells. It is such hooey!


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