Care of hol­i­day plants

The Standard Journal - - LIFESTYLE -

As you dec­o­rate your home for the hol­i­days, con­sider these color­ful com­ple­ments to the tra­di­tional poin­set­tias and ev­er­greens.

This old-time fa­vorite gets its name from de­pend­able hol­i­day flow­er­ing. Ac­tu­ally, three re­lated species look like Christ­mas cacti. The three types bloom faith­fully at dif­fer­ent times of the year: Thanks­giv­ing, Christ­mas and Easter.

They’ve been ex­ten­sively hy­bridized to pro­duce a wide range of flower col­ors: ma­genta, white, pink, salmon, and or­ange. All hol­i­day cacti need bright light and mod­er­ate mois­ture for best growth and flow­er­ing. A south win­dow is per­fect. After the six-week hol­i­day bloom­ing, re­move spent flow­ers and ap­ply a house­plant fer­til­izer.

These gar­den­pep­per cul­ti­vars are se­lected for their fruit color and form. The pep­pers can be globe or cone shaped and yel­low, or­ange, red, green, or pur­ple, with peak color for one to two months.

The fruits will be brighter and last longer if you pro­vide high light and mild tem­per­a­tures (60 – 75) de­grees and keep the soil moist.

Fer­til­ize weekly with a sol­u­ble fer­til­izer. Be aware that these pep­pers are some­times ex­tremely hot. Keep them away from small chil­dren.

Look for sin­gle or clus­tered, trum­pet-shaped, red, vi­o­let-blue, pink, white or bi-col­ored flow­ers. A 6-inch glox­inia will have a dozen or more buds and will flower three to four weeks if prop­erly cared for. The blooms last from four to six days.

Treat glox­inias as African vi­o­lets. Avoid di­rect sun­light. Wa­ter from the saucer, with warm wa­ter, (at least 70 de­grees). Keep the soil moist but not wa­ter­logged. Avoid cold or hot drafts.

Un­like African vi­o­lets, glox­inias need to rest be­fore re-flow­er­ing. When the leaves start to die back, wa­ter it less often. Al­low the tuber­ous stem to rest two to four months in dry soil. Re­sume wa­ter­ing when new growth ap­pears.

A great spring bulb in the gar­den, Amaryl­lis pro­duces spec­tac­u­lar or­ange, red, white, pink, and mul­ti­col­ored blooms. In pots, plants are gen­er­ally avail­able from Christ­mas to Easter. They flower four to six weeks after bulbs are planted.

In­di­vid­ual blooms may last three to four days. To re-flower, place the plant in bright light (out­doors when tem­per­a­tures per­mit). Let the fo­liage fully de­velop. Fer­til­ize and wa­ter it all sum­mer.

In late sum­mer or fall, as the leaves be­gin to die back, wa­ter less often. When the leaves die, al­low the soil to dry out. Place the bulb in a cool, dry place four to eight weeks be­fore re­sum­ing wa­ter­ing.

These beau­ties show up in stores from Oc­to­ber through March. At­trac­tive fo­liage and a va­ri­ety of white, pink, laven­der, pur­ple, red, or bi-color blooms make cy­cla­mens ex­cel­lent gift plants. They can flower for two to four months with proper care.

Cy­cla­mens like cool in­door tem­per­a­tures (50-60 de­grees), so place them in an east or north win­dow. Take care when wa­ter­ing, as plants are eas­ily dam­aged from over – or – un­der wa­ter­ing.

After flow­er­ing has stopped, grad­u­ally wa­ter them less often. After the leaves die, al­low the tuber­ous stem to re­main dry six weeks be­fore re-wa­ter­ing.

New fo­liage will ap­pear after wa­ter­ing re­sumes. Bright light and cool tem­per­a­tures, too, may some­times pro­duce a plant that will re-flower.

Ricky Ens­ley

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