Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gardening Inside Your Holiday Home

I love the fragrance of paperwhites around the holidays and each year I order some along with my amaryllis.  One year I went a little overboard and ordered fifty bulbs thinking I would pot some up for friends and portion out the rest so that I would have paperwhites blooming for many weeks. This was a great deal of work and certainly took away from the easy bulb it is to grow.

I am planting Paperwhite "Ziva", a very floriforus fragrant variety, in soil because I just want to see some leaves and flowers and not the bulb.  However, paperwhites can also be planted in stones, just like the amaryllis I planted previously.  They bloom quickly, about three weeks, so try to time it so you have blooms for the holidays.

They should be planted shallow, more soil can be added as the leaves sprout.  Moss can be added before they bloom.  Decorative branches can be inserted to hold the leaves and flowers.

I put three bulbs in each of the tin and copper pots.  They are packed tightly but that is okay since these are one time use bulbs in my area.

I am starting mine now and will hold them in the attached garage for a week if I have to, just want to make sure they are in bloom.  They cannot freeze, but if you have a cool place you can keep them from breaking into full flower too soon.

I have also planted eleven bulbs in this large container. 

They are set down a few inches in the container because they become quite tall.  Their leaves do flop and lean towards the light so this is another plant that will benefit from some type of support.  Again, I will use the branches, maybe gold this time.  There is a formula of grain alcohol and water that supposedly stunts the growth so that they do not flop, check it out on  I tried it once and honestly I cannot remember if it worked!

This is the new holiday green and it really looks better with my vintage furniture than the darker green we have used for years.

My amaryllis grew very quickly and may not last through the holidays.  I could have held it in the garage at a certain stage but I was so anxious to see the flowers.  It is a Christmas amaryllis and I knew it would be faster and shorter than the other types.  I may not even need the branches to prop it up as the large leaves have not developed yet.

Christmas Amaryllis Cocktail

Cyclamen has always been a favorite plant to have around the holidays but I have never been able to keep it going.  It requires a cooler environment and not too much water.  I think I have finally found a place that it thrives.

Last winter I bought three small cyclamen at Home Depot and put them in a decorative container in an upstairs bath on a tiled window seat.  They did beautifully all year until recently when they outgrew their pots and began to look challenged.  I decided to replace them with larger cyclamen and potted them into my matching McCoy urns.  They look great and seem to be rewarding me with oodles of flowers.

The poinsettia is a favorite holiday plant, however, be careful where you place them.  Keep them away from drafts both hot and cold and away from children and pets (although not as toxic as once thought).  Water sparingly (moist, cannot sit in water) but do not let them dry out or the leaves will curl and fall.  The flowers of the poinsettia are almost unnoticeable, it is the leaves that turn those beautiful colors.

This is a variegated poinsettia that I purchased at Costco.  I bought the same poinsettia last year and it held up throughout the holiday season.  It is low growing and very full.