Make guests feel right at home when yours is decorated with living plants. Holiday houseplants are popular gifts and great ways to introduce people to becoming plant lovers. Here are a few tips on caring for our favorites offered this time of year.
Frosty Fern, Selaginella
The textural, silvered foliage of Frosty Fern gives a soft evergreen feel indoors, and accents winter holiday décor quite well. Keep this plant in bright, indirect sunlight and the soil evenly moist, never allowing it to dry out.
Houses tend to be dry in winter. Create humidity for the frosty fern by placing the potted plant on a saucer of pebbles or gravel, and water. Clustering plants of similar water and soil needs close together also promotes moist air. The warm temps, high humidity and consistently moist soil of a terrarium or dish garden work well for the Frosty Fern.
Despite its name, the Christmas cactus is a tropical plant that requires higher humidity and water requirements than its succulent friends. Place in bright, indirect light for the best blooms, avoiding cold, hot or drafty locations. Place the potted plant on a bed of pebbles and water. Soil that stays too dry causes the plant to droop and drop leaves.
With a variety of colorful bloom choices, the Christmas Cactus enhances any space. Pinching back the stems after the blooms fade will create a bushier plant. If the soil becomes compact, repot with fresh potting mix in a slightly larger container. 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’
For anyone with an interest in growing things, Paperwhites produce beautiful white flowers from bulbs without much patience or prep work. This method is called indoor forcing. Fill the bottom of a container with pebbles, marbles or coarse 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.
Keep moist and watch the shoots grow daily. Clear glass containers allow you to watch what goes on below the surface with roots, providing a great learning tool for children.
This vibrant, beautiful plant is easy to grow from a bulb and makes a statement in color and height. When indoor forcing Amaryllis, place the bulb root down in a pot with 1/3 of the bulb remaining above the surface. Keep in a bright room while the roots are developing. Only the base of the bulb should be submerged in water or moist soil. Watering frequency will increase after the flower stalk and leaves appear. Rotate the plant as it grows and support the stems if needed. Some can grow as tall as a toddler!
Amaryllis will flower in 6-8 weeks. Plant in early to late November if you want blooms for Christmas. Once the plant blooms, moving it to a cooler, shadier room will extend the life of the flower.