Christmas-flowering houseplants to ‘dispel winter dullness’
Learn how to care for Christmas cactus and poinsettias
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The RHS said: “Often given as gifts to help dispel winter dullness, Christmas-flowering houseplants offer their best displays when kept in the right conditions. Whether you are the owner of a poinsettia, cyclamen, azalea, jasmine or gardenia, 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.”
According to the experts, this is a half-hardy plant and naturally blooms in spring, but are forced into flower early for the Christmas trade.
The RHS said: “Grow in a cool location, away from scorching sunshine, and keep moist. If the compost dries out, the plant will often die.”
To maintain humidity, place the houseplant on a pebble tray to help the plant thrive all year long.
A sunny windowsill is also an ideal position for this houseplant during the winter months.
The experts added: “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.”
This gorgeous plant provides colour when little else is flowering, particularly in late winter or early spring. They come in a variety of different colours including pink, white and red.
According to the experts, cyclamen will bloom for several months and can flower again in future years. Gardeners should buy a plant with plenty of buds showing underneath the foliage.
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Also, avoid purchasing a plant with drooping or yellow leaves, this is a sign they have been watered too much.
The RHS continued: “Choose a brightly-lit situation, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Occasional drying out of the compost is less harmful than overwatering.
“Remove spent flowers by twisting the stems and giving them a sharp pull. This avoids leaving parts of the stem behind, which often rot.
“After flowering, continue careful watering and feeding until leaves yellow, then reduce watering as the plant becomes dormant for summer.”
As new growth appears, replace the top few centimetres with fresh compost and resume regular watering.
Poinsettias are widely grown as Christmas houseplants, known for their bright red colouring. Owners of this houseplant should water sparingly as too much can damage them.
The RHS said: “As a rule of thumb, only water when the surface of the compost has begun to feel dry. Place the pot in a bowl of tepid water to allow the compost to soak it up for 10 to 20 minutes.
“Lift it out of the bowl, let it drain, and then return to its decorative plant pot. This flowering time of plants is extended by humidity, so mist plants everyday if you can.”
Poinsettias are widely grown as Christmas houseplants, known for their bright red colouring
This plant is often quite cheap to buy from supermarkets, meaning many will choose to dispose of them shortly after Christmas.
However, with a little care, they could keep going until the following year. The experts said: “The best way to get a good display from the second year is to prune back the plants hard in April and in early May, repot them.”
Britons should cover their plant or put it in a dark room after 12 hours of daylight everyday and protect it from artificial light sources.
The gardening pros added: “Be aware that commercially-grown poinsettias are often treated with growth suppressants to obtain a compost plant, but plants grown on at home will revert to their taller, natural habitat.”
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