Holiday Plant Inspiration

December 13th, 2016

It’s that time of year where landscape lovers and gardeners can go green with their gifts. Follow along as I lay out my fave winter picks for the Christmas and holiday season!
 
Amaryllis Bulbs and kits can be found almost everywhere as soon as the pumpkins are out of the grocery stores and nurseries. They are one of the easiest bulbs to bring to bloom and the large showy flower is well worth it! They would make a great gift for beginning gardeners or for people with young children. Once the plants start to grow, kids really love waking up each morning to see how tall they have gotten. They come in a nice variety of vibrant colours and are usually sold in convenient kits that include the pot, bulb and potting mix.
If giving the gift of an amaryllis bulb to a non-gardener, go ahead and plant it up for them now and it should be blooming on or near Xmas 2016. Or give them the full gardening experience and let them plant it for blooms in January!
Once planted, place the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light. Water it sparingly until the stem appears and then increase the watering as the bud and leaves appear. The blooms will last for several weeks. You can also find amaryllis as cut flowers around Christmas time at your local florist.
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Christmas Cactus
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In my opinion this a great plant for a keen gardener or plant person as its needs change throughout the year in order to enjoy blooms throughout December and January. Despite its name, the Christmas Cactus is not as popular as the Poinsettia but it still puts on a nice show this time of year as well as makes a nice gift – especially because it can last for years. The plant needs medium light and its soil should not dry out. It’s flowering during the season has to do with day length and night time temperatures. Here’s a handy little chart:
November to January
 Flowering
February to March
Resting, infrequent watering, 55 degrees
April to May
Water well when plant dries out
June to August
Place outdoors in a shady spot
September to October
Plant prepares to flower, reduce daylight hours, keep drier and in a cool spot 55 degrees until buds form and then you can gradually increase water and temperature.
Norfolk Pine
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While this evergreen is not a really pine, it is a nice Christmas tree shape plant that would make a great gift or accent in your home. Somethings to keep in mind: these trees are NOT cold hardy and should be kept away from cold drafts. Also keep this in mind when shopping for one: do not leave it in the car while you continue shopping.  Since they are actually a tropical plant they require humidity, especially in the winter months. This can be easily achieved by placing the pot on a tray of pebbles or misting the plant with water.
Norfolk pines also require bright light and can even tolerate direct light. It grows slowly so buy the size according to your needs. Norfolk pines would make a great gift for someone with a large sunny kitchen or even someone with a West window in a condo or apartment.
Poinsettia
 
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The poinsettia is probably the most popular Christmas plant and it is now available everywhere in a wide range of colors and sizes.
When shopping for your plant this year, make sure you bring your poinsettia directly home. They don’t like to be chilled in the car while you make one more stop, even in mild temps. And when placing them in your home, avoid drafty areas near doors as well as heat sources like vents and fireplaces!
Since most of the plants come with decorative holiday foil pot covers, they are easily over-watered. My *secret* tip to keep them evenly watered is to put a couple of ice cubes in the pot every few days. The ice cubes melt gradually, helping you avoid over watering them!
 
Bulb Planter
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If you want an easy gift that the kids can make, you can create a planter with Spring bulbs. Select a decorative pot with the kids and then seek out your bulbs. Many big box stores have unsold bulbs for sale in the back corner somewhere and, of course, bags of soil.
Or, if you’re shopping for a gardener, you can consider giving them all the materials for them to make their own planter.

Chill and Bloom times:

  • Daffodils: 12-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Tulips: 10-16 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Crocus: 8-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari): 8-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Iris reticulata: 13-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus): 15 weeks of chilling; 2 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Hyacinth: 12-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
There is nothing like Spring bulbs blooming indoors in the Winter!
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Happy Holidays! I hope this article helps with your gift giving this holiday season. If you have any questions please send them my way.
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