Holiday and Gift Plants
Poinsettias are a tropical plant and prefer a bright sunny location. They grow well with daytime temperatures between 65-75 degrees F and between 60-65 degrees F at night. They do not like drafts and should be located away from heat registers or cold doors or windows. Poinsettias also like to be evenly moist. Let the surface soil become dry to the touch before watering; preferably with lukewarm water. Never let your poinsettia sit in water for an extended period of time. This will cause root rot and is sure death for the plant.
- Prune your poinsettia no later than September 1st to produce a shorter, bushier plant.
- Starting October 1st, the plants must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Stray light of any kind can delay or halt the re-flowering process.
- The plants will still require 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily as well as a regular watering & fertilizer program.
Bulbs - Tulipa, Hyacinthus, Narcissus etc. - Flowering bulbs are a popular indoor gift plant. All bulbs like bright light (lower light causes them to stretch). They will last longer indoors if kept cool. Water thoroughly and then let them dry out slightly between waterings. Once you have finished enjoying them indoors you can plant them outdoors. Continue to water them, let the foliage die naturally, and they should come back the next year..
Kalanchoe - Kalanchoe blossfeldiana - Perennial succulent (zone 10) with fleshy, oval or linear leaves and bell-shaped flowers in many colors. This plant needs a bright location and likes sunshine. It needs warm temperatures in the summer and cool temperatures in the winter (at least 59 degrees F). In the summer water only moderately; keep the plants almost dry in the winter. From March to August feed every 2 weeks with a fertilizer which encourages flowering. Kalanchoes are short-day plants. The flowers develop when they receive only 8-10 hours of light daily for 4-6 weeks. They typically bloom from February to May..
Primula - Primula polyantha - English Primrose - A biennial form with rosettes of basal leaves and flat primrose-shaped flowers in a multitude of colors. These need bright light. Keep them evenly moist, but not soggy. During the blooming season feed with a weak fertilizer solution every 2 weeks. One can plant this species in the garden as a bedding plant after you have enjoyed it indoors and it may even bloom again the next spring. They will do best in moist, part-shade outside.
While your cyclamen is blooming and growing it is best to water so that the soil stays evenly moist but not soggy. Cyclamen grow from a tuber which can rot easily so make sure that the pot does not sit in water for an extended period. Feed your cyclamen every 2 weeks while they are flowering with a liquid houseplant fertilizer such as a 5-10-5.
Remove faded flowers by pulling the flower stem with a quick jerk. Do not cut them off as the remaining stem will soon begin to rot causing fungus problems and contaminated soil can result. Insect damage is rare but aphids and cyclamen mites can appear causing malformed flowers and curled or wrinkled leaves. Isolate your plant and spray with an insecticidal soap or houseplant spray listed for mites.
The fragrant Easter Lily, Lilium longiflorum, is native to southern Japan and Taiwan. It was introduced to the United States in the late 1800's and quickly became a symbol of purity and a favorite Easter gift plant. Most Easter lilies are grown in Oregon and Northern California with 'Nellie White' being the favorite Easter lily variety.
Easter lilies thrive in bright, indirect light and like temperatures around 60 degrees F. Direct sun and warm temperatures will cause the blossoms to quickly wilt and fade. Since they are grown from bulbs it is important to keep the plant evenly moist but do not allow it to sit in water as this will cause the bulb to rot. To prolong bloom it is important to remove the yellow stamens carefully by simply plucking them from the flower. Remove any faded flower heads to prevent the plant from going to seed.
Although the Easter lily is only hardy to zone 8 with some care you can plant it outside in colder regions. Once your lily has finished blooming select a sunny protected area outside to plant your lily. Plant your lily about 6" deep in soil with good drainage. When the stem and leaves have turned brown, remove the foliage. Feed the lily with an all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer and mulch it heavily. Easter lilies can be killed by exposure to winter winds and cold temperatures. Next year your Easter lily will bloom for you in early summer (their normal bloom time) not at Easter. Easter lilies are short lived plants and will probably only survive 2 or 3 years.
The first commercial breeders of Amaryllis were the Dutch who imported several species from Mexico and South America in the 18th century. In 1946 two Dutch growers moved to South Africa and began production there. Most bulbs today come from South Africa, although other countries, including the United States now produce them.