If you've received a beautiful poinsettia, stunning amaryllis or fragrant pot of narcissus for Christmas, it's disheartening to watch the plant fade away after the holidays. These plants have been forced to bloom out of season or, in the case of the poinsettia, before they naturally would. That stresses the plant so it's even more of a challenge to keep them alive and healthy.
Take the plant out of any foil wrapping. That wrapping is pretty to look at but traps water. Plant roots need oxygen and will drown if kept soggy.
Place the plant where it receives adequate light. About six hours of bright light each day should suffice. Avoid cold drafts and hot air. Don't place the plant on a radiator or under a heating vent. Test the window to make sure no icy breeze is creeping in. Poinsettias look great on a fireplace mantel but it's too hot for them. Put them there only when company is coming and in a cooler place the rest of the time.
Water regularly. Fully immerse if the plant dries out completely; otherwise, let the top inch of soil dry out between watering. Mist the plants if the air in your home is dry.
Check the plant for bugs. Wash with a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to one gallon of water.
Remove any spent blossoms. You want the plant putting its energy into staying healthy and growing new green leaves.
Check the bottom of the pot for roots coming out. Florists sometimes squeeze bigger plants into smaller pots so they look bushier. If you see roots, replant the plant into a pot that's 2 inches larger.
Cut off leaves from bulbs like narcissus and amaryllis only when they're completely yellow. The leaves provide energy for the bulb to bloom the next season. Cut off the leaves while they'll still green and the plant won't bloom.
Remove yellowed leaves from poinsettias. Don't worry if the new leaves are green instead of red. The plants need 12 hours of darkness to turn red. Even an hour less will prevent the color change.
Keep dormant bulbs in a cool but not cold place until the weather warms up enough outside to plant.
Plant bulbs in the garden when all danger of frost is past. Poinsettias are tropical and will grow into bushes in warm winter areas.