In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
Kalanchoes are available in beautiful red and orange hues.
Flowering Plants for the Holiday Season
Colorful blooming plants and fresh flower arrangements during the holiday season will help to make the wintry days less dreary. You will find a good selection of both at local florists and garden departments.
One of my favorites, which will outlast the traditional poinsettia, is the succulent kalanchoe. There are many hybrids of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana available with iridescent orange, orange-red, pink, clear yellow, or soft peach flowers, in addition to the traditional bright red. This plant prefers cooler temperatures and will tolerate drying out between waterings. Once kalanchoes finish their blooming cycle, I find it best to cut them back severely to encourage new growth that will bloom again. Bright light is a must for this plant, so keep it near a southeast or west window and rotate the pot every few days.
The majestic blooms of amaryllis are certain to catch attention. It will brighten most any setting -- standing tall on the table or in a sunny hallway. Later, when the blooms are faded, you can grow the amaryllis outdoors when the danger of frost has passed. In September bring the plant indoors for a brief dormancy period before stimulating the new growth for the next cycle of winter blooms.
The orchid-like flowers of the cyclamen plant are very appealing, in shades of pink, red, mauve, purple, and white. Some have handsome blotches of deeper color at the inner edge, and colorful patterns on the heart-shaped leaves. This plant prefers cool conditions and uniformly moist potting mix. This is often hard to duplicate in many of our warm, dry homes that have forced air heating. No matter; it is still worth the effort of trying to find a suitable location to accommodate the charming cyclamen.
Poinsettias are perhaps the most prominent of all the holiday plants. It's not the true flowers but the colorful bracts that give poinsettias such wide appeal. Colors range from the all-time favorite red to deep scarlet, pink, white, speckled, ruffled, and red with pink spots or all white with greenish tints. A spectacular hanging basket of poinsettias will add dramatic color to a sunny window or entry hall.
Keeping poinsettias too wet or too dry can cause premature leaf drop. Check the potting mix with your finger, and as it is beginning to dry out, give the plant a good soaking and discard excess water that collects in the drainage saucer. With proper care poinsettias will remain attractive for several weeks.
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