Nature has a way of calming chaos. When you include live plants in your interior décor, they offer nurturing as well as comfort. The color green is known to bring balance and harmony. Holiday houseplants are popular gifts, making beautiful accents indoors. Here are a few tips on caring for our favorites offered this time of year.
Frosty Fern, Selaginella
The soft, silvery-green foliage of Frosty Fern brings the look of evergreen to tabletop decor. Frosty ferns prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Water frequently enough to keep the soil evenly moist. Since houses tend to be dry in winter, you can create humidity for the frosty fern by setting the potted plant on a saucer of pebbles and water. The humid environment of a terrarium or dish garden works well for the Frosty Fern.
The Christmas cactus is actually a tropical plant, requiring more frequent watering and humidity than its arid, succulent friends. Place Christmas Cactus in bright, indirect light for the best blooms, avoiding cold, hot, or drafty locations. To add humidity, place the potted plant on a bed of pebbles and water. Too dry of soil can cause the plant to droop and drop leaves. Want a bushier plant? Pinch back the stems after the blooms fade. Repot with fresh potting mix in a slightly larger container once soil becomes too compact. In following years, to get the plant to bloom for Christmas, start in mid-October and place the plant in the dark for 12 hours a day for 6 to 8 weeks.
Paperwhites, Narcissus Ziva
Watching plants grow is a wonderful feeling through the cold winter. Paperwhites produce beautiful white flowers from bulbs approximately 6-10 weeks after planting. Plant by mid-November to have flowers in time for Christmas. You can also plant different bulbs in succession to have continuous blooms all winter. Indoor forcing does not take much patience or prep work. Fill the bottom of a container with pebbles, marbles, or course sand. Nestle the bulbs side by side, roots down into the pebbles. Leave space at the bottom for water that stays below the base of the bulb. Bulbs sitting in water can cause root rot. You can watch the shoots growing daily. Clear glass containers allow you to see below the surface with roots, providing a great learning tool for kids of all ages.
This vibrant, beautiful plant is easy to grow from a bulb, making a statement in color and height. Plant in early to late November if you want blooms for Christmas as they bloom in 6-8 weeks. When indoor forcing Amaryllis, place the bulb, root down, in a pot with 1/3 of the bulb remaining above the surface. Only the base of the bulb should be submerged in water or moist soil. Keep your Amaryllis in a bright room while the roots are developing. Increase watering after the flower stalk and leaves appear and rotate the plant for a more uniform, upright appearance. Support the stems if needed. Once the plant blooms, moving it to a cooler, shadier room will extend the life of the flower. After the flowers have withered, cut the stalk off 2” above the bulb and continue to water. Decrease watering in late summer so the foliage dies back and the bulb completely dries out for its dormant state. Store the bulb in a cool, dry place for at least 8 weeks. Start growth again by watering. Repot every 3 to 4 years as needed.