FLOWERING HOUSEPLANTS FOR CHRISTMAS
By Jan Cashman • Posted on November, 17th 2020
You can’t beat poinsettias for a colorful Christmas plant in your home, but after Christmas, poinsettias tend to go downhill. Come January, we all are ready to move on from the Christmas theme. There are other beautiful houseplants that are colorful but do not scream Christmas and will continue to make a good houseplant month after month, sometimes for years.
Christmas Cactus– Christmas cactus, a colorful succulent is a true cactus. It is found native growing on the branches of trees in the rainforests of Brazil, not the dry climate you would expect for a cactus. Three hybrid varieties fall into this group: Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, and Easter cactus, each blooming around those holidays. In fact, many of the plants that you purchase called “Christmas” cactus might really be “Thanksgiving” cactus.
CARE Christmas cactus are low maintenance and can live for years in your home. They need good drainage but it is OK to let them get pot-bound. Keep them evenly moist, especially when they are flowering. Christmas cactus like to be in bright light but not direct sunlight.
REBLOOMING To get your Christmas cactus to bloom by next Christmas, in early October 1) reduce watering. Water only when the soil is dry. 2) The plant must be in total darkness 12 to 24 hours a day. 3) Reduce the temperature of the room the plant is in to 50 to 55 degrees for 4 to 8 weeks. Then bring it out into a warmer, brighter, room and resume watering on a regular schedule.
Cyclamen- Cyclamen’s array of long-lasting flowers in various colors and their variegated leaves make them a popular houseplant in Northern climates where you can’t grow them outside. There are 23 species of cyclamen native to the Greek Islands and the Mediterranean Basin east to Iran. Cyclamen are grown from a tuber and go dormant in the summer. They are poisonous to pets.
CARE Cyclamen prefer a slightly acid soil and plenty of humidity so mist occasionally.
REBLOOMING After the plant blooms, it goes into dormancy. At that time, water well; then put the plant in a cool, dark room for 2 to 3 months. Let the leaves die back. Then, feed with ½ strength fertilizer and bring your plant into the warmth of your home.
Anthurium- Anthurium is commonly called by its genus name: anthurium. This genus of about 1000 species is native from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. Its flowers bloom in many colors; the most common color is a showy, bright red. Anthuriums are epiphytes or “air” plants, meaning they grow on other plants, not in the soil. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
CARE As a houseplant anthuriums need little care. They are not fussy about room temperature. Let your plant dry out between waterings and fertilize once a month with a houseplant fertilizer at ¼ strength. Repot as necessary.
There are other houseplants that suit the Christmas season. If you live in an apartment or have a small living room, try a Norfolk Island pine for a Christmas tree. Small Norfolk Island pines will fit on a table and look Christmassy decorated with a few small balls and ornaments. Amaryllis bulbs are a popular gift and grow into a houseplant with huge bright red flowers that say “Christmas”.
Remember the value of living houseplants. Use them to teach your children responsibility and plant care. Houseplants not only beautify your home, but purify and add oxygen to the air, relieve stress, and improve your mental well-being.