3 flowering plants for the winter

Christmas cactus

With the garden put to bed for the winter and our houseplants taking a well-deserved winter nap, we gardeners long to see a flowering plant. Fortunately, we have available in our garden centers three beautiful plants that are easy to grow, easy to care for, and available at a reasonable price.

The holiday plant that immediately comes to mind is the poinsettia. This lovely plant is available not only in white and Christmas red, but many variations of holiday colors.

Poinsettias are not poisonous. Our house has been home to many dogs and cats over the years with never a problem. Despite that, the myth persists.

The poinsettia should be placed in a spot with lots of light, with a temperature of about 65 to 70 degrees. Do not over water. I only water when the soil is dry to the touch. Ekey’s Garden Center has a wonderful selection of this beautiful and popular plant.

The Christmas cactus is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Very often they are passed down in families from one generation to the next. In the late fall after a summer spent outdoors, they will be covered with beautiful blooms. I put my plants outside in spring as soon as the threat of frost is past withholding water unless there is a prolonged dry spell. In late September I give the plants a bath of warm soapy water to eliminate any garden pests and then I bring them inside. Over the growing season, nature provides the exact amount of light necessary to encourage full bloom. There are many wonderful new colors of Christmas Cactus. This is a good time to add a new plant to your home and a wonderful gift for almost anyone on your list.

Poinsetta

The amaryllis is always a popular holiday flower. The big box stores have wonderful displays of amaryllis kits for sale right now. They are available in colors from red to pink to white and variations in between. Follow the directions on the box carefully. One trick I have learned recently is to soak the bulb in warm water for an hour to give the plant a head start. Plant the bulb in good potting soil, only placing the bottom 2/3 of the bulb in the soil. Water sparingly until the stem appears. The amaryllis bulbs can be kept from year to year. The leaves should be allowed to develop fully over the summer while you continue to water. In autumn cut the leaves back to about 2 inches above the bulb. Remove the bulb from the soil and store in a cool dark place for about 6 weeks. Plant again in potting soil for the holiday season.

The biggest holiday plant in most people’s home is the Christmas tree. If you get your tree from a Christmas tree lot of pre-cut trees, remove about 2 inches from the stem. When the tree is cut the stem of the tree makes a callus which will keep it from taking up water. When you get your tree home place it in a bucket of water to help prevent needle drop. Once the tree is in place make sure the tree is kept watered. A tree placed near a heat source will dry out quickly and an open flame like a candle or fireplace could make it a fire hazard. Check carefully any lights you want to use on the tree. Discard any that are damaged.

Flowering plants add so much to holiday decor. The dining room table comes alive with a grouping of small poinsettias. A hanging basket of Christmas cactus provides the perfect accent to a window filled with winter sunlight and the family can enjoy watching the fast-growing amaryllis. The holiday will soon be upon us. Complete your holiday decorating with live plants.

Amaryllis