many plant choices to brighten up your home for the
holidays! What may work for you, may not work for
someone else. It's always a good idea to learn about
the plant before you purchase it for yourself or as a
gift so disappointment doesn't follow.
Cyclamen is a winter flowering
plant and not the easiest to grow, but certainly is
rewarding to see bloom all through the winter months.
The most important thing to remember when trying to
grow a cyclamen is to realize that it grows best in
cool temperatures and likes plenty of sunlight. A cool
sunny window in a cool room would be the best location
for this plant. Temperatures that get above 68F
are not beneficial for prolonging the life of a
cyclamen. Watering the cyclamen can be tricky. Be
careful not to over water; this will cause roots to
rot. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Be sure
to discard the excess water that drains into the
saucer about 15 minutes after watering.
The cyclamen will bloom from
October through April. When the temperatures become
warmer, the plant stops producing flower buds. As the
summer progresses, often times cyclamen will go into a
state of dormancy. The plant will stop growing leaves,
and often appear to be dying. Continue to keep the
plant alive through the summer months, keeping it as
cool as you can, and giving it plenty of sunlight
inside and continue watering. When the fall months
approach and the nighttime temperatures begin to drop,
you will see an improvement in your plant's behavior.
Its leaves will perk up and it will begin to produce
flower buds again. Before you know it, the plant will
be back to its old self and ready to perform for you
during the winter months!
Christmas cactus is enjoyed by
many over the holiday season. It also prefers a good
sunny and cool location. It requires a dryer soil than
many houseplants, so let it dry out between watering.
In order to get this plant to re-bloom, it requires a
cold period in the fall. The plant can be set outside
during the summer in a shady location. After a few
cool nights (temperatures dropping to 40F)
in the fall, bring it back inside and put it in a
sunny location. It needs the cool temperatures to
trigger the flower buds to set. Before you know it,
the Christmas cactus will be blooming for you again!
Amaryllis is another popular
holiday plant. There are different ways you can
receive this bulb. Sometimes it's just the bulb, other
times it's in a pot, and sometimes it's in a pot with
soil. The container that you choose should be large
enough to support the root system and the bulb. Be
sure the container has good drainage and use an
average houseplant potting soil.
When planting the bulb, allow
for about 1/3 of the top to be above the soil level.
Water the bulb after it is planted and continue to
water as you would any other houseplant. Give it a
sunny window, and the cooler the location in you home,
the less top heavy the plant will get. Before you know
it, you'll see a flower spike, buds, then blooms!
After it's finished blooming,
cut the flower stem back to the top of the bulb.
Continue watering. Leaves will grow quite long. Don't
cut them. After blooming, it especially becomes
necessary to fertilize as these bulbs are heavy
feeders. Use a slow release complete fertilizer that
lasts a few months or a complete liquid fertilizer a
few times per month.
Continue to care for the bulb
as you would any other houseplant. After danger of
frost is over in the spring, the bulb can be planted
outside or continue growing it in a container. When
the leaves begin to yellow, usually when nighttime
temperatures drop in the fall, it's time to give the
bulb a rest. Cut off the leaves. Dig up the bulb if
you planted it outside, brush off the dirt and store
it in a cool, dry place for about 6 weeks. If you kept
it in its container, let the soil dry out, and store
it in a cool, dry location.
After about six weeks, repot
the bulb and begin to water again. Before you know it,
you'll be enjoying the flowers of the amaryllis for
another holiday season!
Read other articles on house plants
Read other winter related gardening articles
articles by Mary Ann Ryan