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Holiday House Plants

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The winter winds are blowing here in Western Massachusetts and our gardens are resting beneath a fresh blanket of snow. Bring your gardening indoors with bright and colorful house plants, which are a fine way to show off your gardening expertise. Many of the plants that bring joy during the holiday season are outdoor plants that are brought indoors before the first frost.

Christmas Cactus Symbolic of the holiday season, the Christmas cactus is a colorful and festive addition to any décor. Hardy and easy to care for, Christmas cactus requires good filtered sunlight, nutrient rich soil, and neglect. Over-watering is the major cause of problems when raising indoor cacti so only water when soil is thoroughly dry. Many houseplants, including Christmas cactus are sensitive to “city water” treated with fluoride. If your tap water is fluorinated, water your plants with purchased water with a pH of 7.5 or collect rainwater or melt snow to provide the healthy, uncontaminated moisture houseplants crave.

Cyclamen Popular as a seasonal, easy-care houseplant, Cyclamen varieties typically show their best blooms between Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holiday. With a bit of tender, loving care, Cyclamen plants will add a colorful accent to the home for years to come. Cyclamen colors range from pink, purple, to red with sturdy, eye-catching leaves in shades of deep green swirled with grey-green markings. Cyclamen plants prefer indirect light and a cool location away from drafts. This hardy interior plant does best in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If temps drop below 50 degrees F. the plant will suffer and leaves turn yellow and drop.

Amaryllis Presently multiple spectacular flowers grown from a single large bulb, the Amaryllis brightens any décor. Widely available during the holidays season at garden shops and home and garden centers, the Amaryllis make a lovely gift of striking beauty that will re-bloom for years to come. Bulbs are planted in a pot in the garden if the weather is warm and move indoors when the mercury drops. In addition to spectacular blooms the Amaryllis presents thick, long strapping leaves to add visual interest and a touch of greenery. The hardy Amaryllis prefers indirect sunlight or dappled shade. When grown indoors, rotate the pot periodically as the plant will lean to the light.

Poinsettias Forget the drab, dull red Poinsettias that graced your grandmother’s home at Christmas. Today, gardeners have developed poinsettias that are hardy and available in a broad choice of colors, many with variegated flowers or variegated leaves. Poinsettias are sensitive to changes in temperatures and do not do well in drafty location. Make sure to locate your plant in a spot where the temperature consistently remains above 50 degrees F. Place your plant in sunny location and water sparingly. Too much water will cause leaves to drop and inadequate light will make the plant grow tall and spindly.

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