Top-10 Blooming Gifts for the Holiday Season

Celebrating the Seasons

Top-10 Blooming Gifts for the Holiday Season

If you get one of these blooming beauties consider yourself lucky. If you need a gift to give, you can't go wrong with these top-10 holiday plants. They'll bring wonderful color and cheer even if the weather is dreary.

1. African Violets stay rather small and don't mind low-light conditions. Be careful when watering. Water only when soil feels dry to the touch, never use cold water, and be sure to keep water off foliage. Here's a tip; if you pinch off early blooms, you'll end up with more blooms in the long run.

2. Begonias are another great flowering houseplant and there are many "houseplant" begonias. Begonias grow best in bright light. Keep soil evenly moist and water as soil just begins to dry. Never let plant sit in water. Be sure to fertilize with a diluted strength (50 percent) liquid fertilizer every other week. Pinching out the tips of the branches will create a bushier plant.

3. Cyclamens thrive in cool, humid conditions (cooler than most of us keep our homes). Water when dry and avoid getting water on the crown of the plant. Stop watering, when blossoms fade. Resume watering when new growth appears, in about two to three months. Feed with a low-nitrogen fertilizer every couple of weeks.

4. Jasmine is the sweetest blooming plant and in the middle of winter the scent of these plants will whisk you to the Caribbean. Jasmine is a climbing vine that is covered with dainty, white flowers. It thrives under full sun, and appreciates being watered regularly and fed monthly with a low nitrogen fertilizer. Not all jasmine are fragrant, so remember to sniff before buying.

5. Azaleas prefer cool conditions — so place in the coldest room in the house where daytime temperatures remain around 60 to 65 F. Avoid full sun while plant is flowering. Keep soil moist, but not wet. Water by submerging the pot in a bucket or sink full of water, and wait until air bubbles disappear. Allow excess water to drain completely. Feed with water soluble fertilizer once every two weeks after flowering is finished.

6. Orchids like bright light during winter months and high humidity. They resent wet feet but resent drying out even more. Because they don't grow in typical potting soil, water once a week or more if needed. Be sure to allow water to drain completely (water that is softened with salt should not be used on orchids). Orchids need to be fed every couple of weeks. Use a fertilizer specific to orchids and follow usage directions.

7. Kalanchoe thrives in conditions completely opposite of orchids. Place it in a sunny, dry location with daytime temperatures in the 70s. Water when soil begins to feel dry. When watering, allow the water to drain completely from the plants — they don't like soggy soil. And it's important to fertilize every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, high in phosphorous.

8. Christmas Cactus is a tropical plant and, unlike its desert cousins, prefers cooler temperatures and likes moist soil. Fertilize with a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer when plants are blooming. Christmas cactus will grow in low-light conditions, however the more light they get, the more blooms they'll produce. Treated well, these plants will give you 20-plus years of enjoyment.

9. Amaryllis should be given at least four hours of indirect light a day, watered once a week, and should be staked. These beauties can become top heavy in no time as they grow.

10. Poinsettias are tropical so give them bright light and temperatures around 70° to 72° F. Water when dry and allow the water to drain from pot — poinsettias hate wet feet (if it has a foil cover, remove cover when watering). If you're worried about poinsettias being poisonous — don't! Poinsettias are NOT poisonous.

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