Caring for flowering plants

The holidays will be upon us soon and one of the gifts that is given most often to friends, and relatives as we travel back and forth from dinner party to house party is the flowering plant. Flowering plants mark festive occasions, convey best wishes, and brighten our holiday tables.

Some of these gifted holiday plants may become members of your household plant family, others that are more difficult to care for or to get to rebloom will be discarded shortly after the holidays end.

Most gift plants will benefit from strong natural lights in order to help them grow and build up extra energy for reblooming. If given warm sunny conditions the plant will require more water than if they were to be kept in cool offices or stores that are illuminated by artificial lighting. In most cases you will need to keep the plants soil moist but be very careful not to over water or under water as over watering will lead to fatal root rot, and under watering will cause wilt. Foil wrappings and plastic-lined baskets are popular pot covers, but allowing water to collect in them keeps soil saturated and causes root rot. Water your plants with tepid or room-temperature water to avoid shocking roots.

If you keep the plants in cool locations the blooms will stay fresh and colorful longer. They wither or drop when exposed to cold drafts and the extremes of heat common near fireplaces and radiators. Dry air can reduce bloom time, too. Increase humidity by grouping plants on a tray of moist pebbles.

Christmas cactus is a long-lived plant that can bloom heavily each year if given the proper treatment. Keep its soil moist from now through next September, then let it go quite dry. Cacti grown dry and cool in fall will set buds in time for the holidays. However, flower buds may drop if Christmas cactus goes too dry or if humidity is too low.

Huge trumpet-shaped Amaryllis flowers perch atop a massive stalk. As flowers fade, remove them but leave the stalk to wither on its own. Then grow your amaryllis as any other sun-loving houseplant, fertilizing regularly from spring until late summer.

Provide amaryllis with a two month rest in late autumn. Quit watering and allow the foliage to yellow, and dry up, then trim it away and put the dormant plant in a cool, dark place until November. At that time, you can start to force new growth by giving it sun and water.

Gardeners seeking maximum bulb growth often plant amaryllis directly in a sunny garden outdoors, after the threat of frost in spring. Otherwise, leave your plants in potbound condition, repotting only every two or three years. Both amaryllis and Christmas cactus are among the most reliable indoor bloomers.

Cyclamen is an attractive flowering foliage plant that comes from the store with mature blossoms as well as buds in all stages of development. Give it a cool location and all the sun possible. Making it bloom again next fall is a challenge best reserved for experienced gardeners. Most plant hobbyists choose to discard the plant after the blooming period is over.

Christmas peppers are pungent-fruited ornamentals that remain colorful for weeks if given strong light and cool temperatures. Raised from seed, peppers are inexpensive and easy to discard once they lose their red fruit.

A pepper relative, Jerusalem cherry, is covered with round red fruit, poisonous if eaten. Care for it as you would Christmas pepper, discarding the plant after fruit drops. Keep its soil moist.

If your poinsettia still looks good after the holidays, place it near a sunny window and keep the soil watered. New shoots will appear as the weather warms. Cut back the stems after bracts fade or drop off. If your poinsettia has gone downhill, prune it back to about four inches, set it near a sunny window and water often enough to keep it moist. It should sprout new stems when spring comes.

Bringing poinsettias back into bloom next year is possible if you water and fertilize through spring and summer, pinching new growth to encourage good form. Around October first, give your poinsettia total darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day. Anything less than complete, absolute darkness during these hours will interfere with blooming. Continue fertilizing and watering, and your plant will show color by December. When bracts start turning red, you can stop the dark treatment.






Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Google
  • YahooBuzz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Lovely Flowering Houseplants

Many people have leafy green houseplants here and there within their homes, but many do not attempt to grow flowering houseplants. Why is this? Do they think that they plants are too difficult? I’ve found that some flowering houseplants are easier to keep than some of the tropical green plants that I’ve butchered over the years. Amaryllis come to mind instantly as a fairly easy winter blooming plant that you could have indoors.

I always find it almost magical when some of my houseplants begin to bloom- particularly if it’s in the dead of winter. I eagerly watch as the first buds appear, and then as the bud grows and begins to bloom. I’m amazed every time. Perhaps I’m easily amazed but I think it’s almost miraculous.

Some house plants that tend to be easy to care for, and that will bloom readily are African violets. I must admit that I’ve only had success with one plant – and it died this summer after surviving for two years. I think I gave it too much care, because I know many other non gardeners who’s African violets are thriving and I’m sure they get very little care.

Unlike many plants, African Violets do not have a dormant period. If they are happy, and conditions are satisfactory they continue to grow and bloom year round. One of the most common causes for African violets failure to bloom is insufficient light. They need to be near a bright sunny area to thrive.

The African Violet has several relatives that make good flowering houseplants as well. For example, the Episcia are fibrous-rooted trailers grown for metallic-toned and delicately veined foliage.

Chznet has fringed white flowers with purple spots, and Acajou has bright red flowers. Oh the possibilities! Neither of these plants need as much light as as African Violets, and both can make attractive hanging basket plants as well.

Miniature Sinningia are lovely in terrariums or in small pots of 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Flower colors include red, lavender, and white. Cape primrose give home owners and outstanding show of flowers, and hybrids are available in several colours such as white, purple and pink. These plants enjoy semi shaded window sills and grow about 10 inches tall.

You may be interested in growing exotic flowers in your home. Bromeliads are easy and popular in the last few years. The Pineapple, aechmea and Billbergia are popular and reward the owners with lovely colour combinations of pink bracts and blue flowers which last for weeks.

Other flowering plants that you might consider are:

Abutilon (Flowering Maple) – large hollyhock like blooms of orange, pink, white, red or salmon. Shrub like, needs bright light.

Aphelandra or Zebra Plant – Shiny, deep-green leaves veined white. needs filtered or diffused sunlight.

Stapelia or Starfish Flower – Large Star-shaped flowers, velvety brown in color. Unfortunately the flowers smell like dead meat, and this plant is sometimes called the Carrion flower.

Plants that are often grown outdoors in the summer and then abandoned to the elements during the cool winter months can make good indoor plants as well if they are given sufficient light to survive- Fuchsia, Impatiens, Begonia, Geranium, Lantana, and Browalia do well. Care should be used to avoid bringing in insect pests when you move these plants indoors.

Sometimes people get plants such as Poinsettias, Easter Lilies, Cyclamen, and Cineraria to survive – I’ve had the first three in my home for the last five years myself – but they can be difficult as they need periods of cooling and adequate humidity to survive.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Google
  • YahooBuzz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS