Winter Gardening

Red amaryllis
By John Spagnoli

Wintertime plants can bring joy on a cold winter day. If you love plants, this time of year outside can be dreary. Yes, snow is very majestic looking with white covering on the ground and provides for great sledding opportunities with family and friends. But this time of year, we all want some flowering or ornamental green plants in our homes. What can plant lovers to do?

There are a number of plants that you can grow for inside flowers like amaryllis and poinsettia, which are popular for the holidays. Let’s not forget about outside trees like conifers.

Do you want a large flower or do you prefer small, dainty flowers. Do you want a flower to bloom at a certain time for the holidays?

You can grow Amaryllis bulbs that can be planted with only a few inches of the bulb exposed. There are many varieties you can grow with relatively cheap bulbs. The rarer bulbs can cost $40 or more, but I personally prefer to just buy the bulb and not use a kit. I have tried to continue growing the bulb after flowering with some luck, just keep the leaves in a sunny place so it can grow the bulb for next year. I would recommend this especially if you paid a small ransom for the bulb.

Developing these varieties take years. First, breeders cross pollinated the flower. Seeds take a number of years to grow in size of a full blooming amaryllis. This is the only way for a breeder to create new varieties and one of the reasons why some bulbs can be very expensive. You can grow them not only for Christmas but later in the winter as well, adding much needed color for a dreary garden.

Poinsettia plants are purchased for Christmas and other observed holidays. What looks like the flower is actually red leaves. The flower is in the middle of the leaves and is a composite flower with many small flowers. Another example of this is the sunflower.

The origin on a poinsettia plant is from Mexico. It is actually from a wild tree (Eurphorbia pulcherrima), which can grow up to eight feet tall. There are multiple varieties in color as well: traditional red, pink and white varieties with different sizes that have been bred over many years.

As for the trees in winter, pine, spruce and fir conifers are evergreen, meaning that they are green year round. Snow covered conifers are appealing and make for great wintertime pictures.

Pine trees have a single point of attachment with several needles while spruce trees have small needles with a single attachment. Fir tree needles are flat with a single attachment.
There are many other choices of plants for indoor flowers, which you can find at your local nursery.

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