Poinsettia Still the Holiday Favourite
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, December 17, 2011 03:45 AM
Many people enjoy receiving flowering plants as well as buying their own, especially at this time of the year. There are many plants from which to choose, yet the red poinsettia is still the favourite.
Other poinsettia varieties, such as the pink, white, marbled, speckled etc are also popular, but it is the traditional red poinsettia that outsells all the other varieties combined.
To keep your poinsettia looking good for as long as possible, ( can last 2-3 months if cared for properly) you want to pick a healthy plant.
Stems should be strong and sturdy and the green leaves should follow the length of the stem to the soil level. Stay away from plants that have yellowed or wilted foliage. Check that the real yellow flowers in the middle of the coloured bracts are closed, as this means that the plant still has many weeks left to bloom. When at home, keep the plant away from drafts, vents and other areas where there is a quick temperature change. Do not allow the plant to dry out, but also, do not keep it too wet. When the soil is dry to the touch, give he plant a good drink of lukewarm water. Water the soil, not the foliage and discard any excess water after 20 minutes.
A new flowering plant that is sure to become more popular as more become available is the “Ardisia crenet Bospremium” sometimes known as Christmas berry or Coral Berry. ( shown at right)
It is unique looking because at the base of the plant there is a ring of red berries that hang in clusters and on top of the ring of red berries are the dark green, serrated, shiny leaves. It is a very festive looking plant. There are very few growers who are able to grow them and they do take a long time to grow, making them quite exclusive. The plants available in the garden centre are already 2 years old. They require lots of bright direct light and should be kept out of drafts. Do not allow the soil to dry out , so when the soil is dry to the touch, give it a good drink of lukewarm water, throwing out any excess water after a few minutes. Fertilize I with 20-20-20 at half strength every weeks to keep the plant healthy. If cared for properly, the berries will stay on the plant throughout the winter and in the spring it will set out new growth and new buds. To get the buds to set, let the plant suffer a little by using a fertilizer low in nitrogen (1st number of the 3 found on fertilizers) nd once the buds have set, change back to fertilizing monthly with 20-20-20.
Indoor azaleas are another flowering plant that is available at this time of year and can be in bloom for many weeks, if given the proper care. Always choose a plant that has lots of unopened buds with just a few starting to open. Foliage should be fresh and healthy looking with no signs of yellow or falling off. Place it in a bright window where it will receive lots of light, but also keep it away from heating vents, radiators, drafts, etc anywhere where is sudden changes in the temperature. The main thing for azaleas is to watch that they do not dry out because of the soil in which they are planted. Azaleas enjoy an acidic soil that consists of high percentage of peat which tends to dry more quickly that means they will need to be watered more often than other plants. When the soil feels dry, give the plant a good drink of lukewarm water, discarding the excess water.
Orchids are the second most popular flowering plant sold in Europe and are quickly becoming a favourite in America. They are easy to care for and do not require a lot of attention. Phalaenopsis is the most common type and is the easiest to care for. Preferably, place them in an east or north window or in s a filtered south window as they do not like direct summer sun. Do not over water them as they like to go slightly dry before they are given some lukewarm water. If cared for properly, they can bloom for weeks and will re-bloom again quite easily making them very affordable as they can give you years of enjoyment.
Other flowering plants that are available almost year round and are in the garden centre now are: mini roses, cyclamen, mums, African violets and Kalonchoe. All of these make great gifts either on their own, or in a festive floral gift basket.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp garden centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 north at Northwood Pulpmill road
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