Christmas Houseplants For Festive Cheer
Many plants are bought for the home or given as gifts for Christmas from the popular Poinsettias and Cyclamen to the more unusual Anthuriums. Here’s how to look after some during the festivities and afterwards.
Poinsettias are a Christmas favourite which produce modified coloured leaves (bracts) from classic red to shades of pink, cream, variegated and spotted ones too. To keep them looking perfect put them in a light position out of direct sunlight at a temperature between 15 - 20°c. There is no need to feed these plants but avoid overwatering them by allowing the compost to dry before plunging in a bowl of water. The coloured bracts should last for about three to four months.
Christmas Prepared Hyacinths will flower early for Christmas so by December there should be a 2.5cm flower bud protruding from the bulb. Grow on indoors in a coolish spot at around 15°c. By the middle of the month the flower bud will be showing colour. Move to a cooler room where growth will slow and the flower emerges and will last longer. Keep the compost just moist and increase watering once the flower opens.
Amaryllis is usually sold in garden centres as dry bulbs or as a part of gift kits with the pot and soil also included. They produce long stems with a large trumpet single or double flower in a range of colour from white, pink, orange, red, bicolour to striped. Some reach 80cm tall. It is easy to grow if placed in a pot a little wider than the bulb making sure the top half sits uncovered above the top of the compost. Water and place in a warm environment to bring into growth where the flower will come first followed later by the leaves. They grow best when put in a light place while keeping them just moist but not too wet. After flowering keep Amaryllis indoors during the cold months then put outside in the summer where they can be left to dry out and bake in the sun.
The Paperwhite Narcissus is a tender Daffodil that produces delicate white flowers with a delightful sweet scent just 7 weeks after planting. Plant as many of them as you can fit in a pot filled with bulb compost and keep the top half of the bulbs exposed. Unlike some Christmas flowering bulbs there is no need to 'prepare them' with a period of darkness and cold. Instead put them straight into a warm and light room.
The beautiful Rhododendron like flowers of Indoor Azaleas come in many colours and a few are also scented. They are very easy to keep as long as they remain moist during their flowering period. Keep a good eye on them though as they can dry out very quickly causing the petals to drop early. Their ideal growing temperature is 10 - 15°c so avoid warmer places which will cause the flowers to finish sooner. Aftercare involves replanting in to a bigger pot of ericaceous compost before putting them outside from the middle of June. A shady position is best before eventually bringing them back indoors at the end of October. Always keep the compost moist.
Cyclamen is one of the most popular houseplants. They are perfect for the cooler parts of your house and have compact stems of white, pink, red or bicoloured nodding flowers over intricately patterned leaves. The perfect temperature for them is 10 - 15°c in a light position away from radiators. Kitchens, bathrooms, studies and by the front door are all great places for them. Pull or twist off the flowers once they have finished and more will follow for many months to come. Grow them inside until the leaves start to go yellow and then you can either rest the corms for a while or repot them and grow into a bigger plant to flower again next winter.
Christmas Cacti are one of my favourite houseplants. They are slow growing succulents with flat and fleshy leaves that by the end of the summer produce exotic looking flowers of cerise pink, white, orange or apricot. Flowering can start as early as the middle of November and continue to late January. Give them a period of time outside in the summer before moving them back indoors in October. They are good in light or shady places and allow the compost to dry before re watering. Checking the soil regularly is the best policy. Remove the old flowers to keep the plant looking tidy.
In mixed containers the plants that need the same conditions are selected. As the plants begin to outgrow the container after Christmas replant each separate into pots of either John Innes No.2 or a good Multipurpose Compost. Common arrangements include Ferns, Poinsettia, Azalea, Peace Lilly, Coral Bead Plant, Polka Dot Plants and more.
Have a Happy Houseplant filled Christmas Everyone.
It’s January and our Gardening Year begins again.
Here in the darkest winter days there’s a fresh enthusiasm and plans to be made for the garden in this whole new Gardening Year.
Venture to the Garden Centre and you will see some of the delights that could be colourful and exciting in your garden even in the middle of winter.