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Holiday plants bring the outdoors, inside – After the holidays continue to spread the beauty of the season well into the new year

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Home & Garden

Published on January 01, 2020 with No Comments

by Lee Lyons

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean we can’t have the beauty of flowers filling our homes. In fact, the abundance of seasonal flowers available at Christmastime is guaranteed to make any home bright with the magnificence of nature.

With a little careful selection and a visit to your local grocery, department store, or nursery, anyone can transform their home into a decorator’s dream, even after the holidays.

Don’t forget plants when gift-giving. A healthy plant can outlast the holiday season and continue to give cheer well into the New Year. Dressed up in ribbon and including a hand-written card with watering and light recommendations will enhance the thoughtfulness of your gift and personalize it.

The traditional Poinsettia, with its large leaves and striking red or white colors, is familiar to most people. Poinsettias can be showy and a grouping of two or three plants makes a splendid decorative display in any home.

When selecting a Poinsettia choose one with healthy-looking, small yellow flowers in the center of the colored part of the plant (what we’d think of as the flower rather than the leaves).  Plants with poor or missing yellow flowers are past their prime and may not last long.

The most important thing to remember is not to drown the plant. Poinsettias, like most indoor plants, do not survive standing water. Since most Poinsettias, when purchased, come wrapped in foil or paper, it’s important to cut away the bottom of the paper in order to let the water drain out. It’s best to water the plant in the sink and leave it to drain completely before setting it back on a saucer and returning it to its window location.

Poinsettias like light, so be careful to place them where they get enough and only water them when they are dry, possibly every four to seven days.

When Poinsettias drop their leaves in January or February, they can be pruned and “retired” for the season to bloom again next year.

Another holiday favorite is the Christmas cactus. There are several varieties of this popular plant, so be careful to get a “Christmas” cactus rather than an “Easter” or “Thanksgiving” type. These hardy and very impressive plants can last for years if properly cared for. Their many “droopy” shoots and bright red flowers can cheer up a room instantly.

The biggest danger is overwatering or, sometimes, watering too little. The soil should be dry on top but retain some moisture when a finger is inserted to check. Proper drainage is essential as is a bright light location. Christmas cacti don’t like heat so their room should be coolish and their location away from heat sources.

Two bulb plants, the Amaryllis and Paperwhites, can be bought already in bloom and ready to add to the decorated charm of the holiday season. They like bright light windows and rotation ever few days. Both like a moderately and evenly moist soil but not wet. Paperwhites, because of their delicate stems, should have a stake inserted after they begin to grow and tied loosely with a loop of string or ribbon to keep them standing upright.

The Amaryllis shows off with one or more large deep red blooms, while the Paperwhites sport a number of small white flowers. Grouping several of each plant together can make quite a beautiful display. Adding additional accents like holly and pine branches will create a seasonal setting beyond compare.

Lastly, a small Norfolk Island Pine can serve as an additional “room Christmas tree” as well as bring the delicious scent of Christmas into the house. These much-loved plants need several hours of bright, direct sunlight and watering when the top of the soil is dry. But they also do not like to stand in water so a deep saucer beneath them is essential.

In the end, whatever plants you choose for your holiday decorating or gift-giving, remember that light and watering and good drainage are critical to keeping plants healthy indoors. After that, the decorating possibilities are almost endless. Christmas plants will bring the outdoors inside and spread the beauty of the season throughout your home, well into the new year.

Rosemary Tree

Rosemary is one of those wonderful herbs that makes a beautiful ornamental plant as well as a versatile culinary seasoning. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means “dew of the sea,” and rosemary is most closely associated with the cooking of the Mediterranean region.

The three fundamentals for successfully growing rosemary are sun, good drainage, and good air circulation. In cold-winter climates, you can grow rosemary in the ground as an annual, or keep it in a container that you bring indoors well before the first frost.

Water rosemary plants when the soil is completely dry. Be careful not to over-water and avoid making the soil soggy (especially when growing in containers), as this leads to root rot.

Poinsettia Care Tips

Poinsettias need not disappear after the holiday season. These plants can be kept alive and healthy year round with just a bit of special care. If you want to go the extra mile, you can take a few extra steps to ensure your plant flowers again in time for the next Christmas. 

Place poinsettias in natural light near a sunny window in the winter, leaving some space between the leaves and the cold window pane.

Water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Do not let the pot sit in a saucer of water. Overly wet soil prohibits sufficient air circulation, which is necessary for the plant to thrive.

Optimal poinsettia care can coax old plants into re-flowering for future Christmases. To force a poinsettia to re-flower, continue normal watering of the soil until the first of April, then allow it to dry out gradually — but don’t let the stems shrivel up. This will lull the plant into its dormant phase. Store the poinsettia in a cool (60 degrees F), airy location on its side or upright. In mid May, cut the stems back to about 4 inches above the soil, and re-pot in a slightly larger pot with a clean, fresh soil mixture. Water the soil thoroughly after potting, then wait ten minutes and water again before putting the plant near a sunny window. After new growth appears, it is okay to fertilize, if desired.

In October and November, cover the plant so that it is in complete darkness at night (from 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.), re-placing it near a sunny window in the daytime. New flowers should appear just in time for the holidays.

 

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