Those of us who spend much of our waking lives thinking about gardens tend to give plants as Christmas presents. Often given to help dispel winter dullness, winter-flowering houseplants offer their best displays when kept in the right conditions. Whether you are the owner of a Poinsettia, Cyclamen or Azalea, providing suitable temperatures, humidity levels and care means you can impress your friends into the New Year with the health of the plant they gave you.
- If possible, choose plants that like the conditions that you have available in your house.
- Avoid placing plants: in a draught; where there are large fluctuations in temperature (most common if plants are displayed on windowsills); and in a hot spot caused by the central heating (such as above a radiator).
- Water plants by standing them in a bowl containing a few centimetres (half an inch) of water for five minutes. Remove and allow to drain before putting the pot back in position.Our festive favourites:
1) Azalea – The showy Azalea originates from eastern Asia where it inhabited cool humid mountain forests.
- It will last much longer if not subjected to too warm an environment. These lovely plants do need to be kept moist. Never allow the root ball to dry out.
- Place the container on a pebble tray to maintain humidity.
- A sunny windowsill is an ideal position for Azaleas during winter.
- In mid-April, repot using an ericaceous compost and feed with a high-potassium, liquid feed at weekly intervals. Plants can be stood outdoors in a cool, shady site for the summer if kept constantly moist, but must be brought indoors before the first frost of autumn.
Indoor cyclamen originate from a wild species native to the Middle East. Modern hybrids include those with silver marbled leaves, frilled petals, fragrant blooms and miniatures, and a range of flower colours. Cyclamen will bloom for several months and can flower again in future years.
- Buy a plant with plenty of buds showing underneath the foliage. Avoid any plants with drooping or yellow leaves, as they have often been overwatered.
- Choose a brightly-lit situation, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
- Occasional drying out of the compost is less harmful than overwatering.
- Perfect for a cool, light room or porch.
- Remove spent flowers by twisting the stems and giving them a sharp pull. This avoids leaving parts of the stems behind, which often rot.
- After flowering, continue careful watering and feeding until leaves yellow, then reduce watering as the plant becomes dormant for the summer.
- As new growth appears, replace the top few centimetres (half an inch) of compost in the container with fresh compost and resume regular watering.
Indoor cyclamen are usually larger and more showy than their outdoor cousins, the hardy cyclamen.
Poinsettias are cheeryplants that are widely grown indoors over Christmas for their brightly coloured bracts ranging from pale cream bracts through to deep red, the most popular being scarlet. They are often disposed of once they start to fade, but with a little care, you can keep them all year and the bracts will colour up again the following year.
- Poinsettias need bright, but filtered light, away from strong sun and draughts. They need a minimum temperature of 13-15°C (55-59°F).
- Be careful when transporting poinsettias from our shop to your home, as the cold outdoor temperatures can damage the foliage. We would be happy to wrap the plant in paper right around the top of the foliage, or put it in a plastic bag so that it is completely protected, just ask a member of staff at the till point.
- Water sparingly. As a rule of thumb, only water when the surface of the compost has begun to dry out. The flowering life of plants is extended by humidity, so mist plants regularly.
4) Cymbidium orchid
Orchids are also a very popular choice for a gift. With their exotic blooms, these stunning plants provide weeks if not months of colour. The most popular orchid is the Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchid, which come in a huge range of colours with various petal patterns. Cymbidium Orchids make a grand statement with their lovely stems of waxy flowers; however they do need quite a bit of space to show them off to their best advantage.
Cymbidium have highly decorative flower spikes and are one of the least demanding indoor orchids.
- Support developing flower spikes with a bamboo cane. Flowers generally last for six to eight weeks. Once the blooms have faded, cut down the flowered stem to the base.
- Cymbidium prefers cooler growing conditions than some other tender indoor orchids. Provide winter growing temperatures between 10-14°C (50-57°F). Keep the temperatures below 30°C (86°F) in summer to prevent damage to the plants.
- Do not allow the plant to sit in water. Let the compost dry out a little before the next watering.
Don’t forget, we offer a complimentary gift wrap service to further enhance your selection.