In the past several columns, I have been talking about all sorts of plants that are popular during the holidays.
This week, I am going to talk about a couple of plants that just don't seem to have as much fame as some of the other holiday plants. Although you may find these varieties a bit harder to locate locally, they are available at some specialty garden centers.
One choice is cyclamen. The blossoms of the cyclamen twist and turn almost like the small wings of a butterfly. The foliage has a distinct silvery, marbleized coloring that makes this plant unique. These plants are quite beautiful but they do require a lot of care to stay healthy. The most important criteria for success are temperature and moisture.
Cyclamen require low temperatures in order to thrive for any length of time. You must keep them out of the warm, outdoor temperatures and try to keep them in an area of your house that is cool. This is tricky because at the same time, they also must be in an area that has ample light.
Cyclamen also are finicky about watering. They need to be watered daily so that the soil is kept evenly moist. Always water your cyclamen by wetting the soil and not the plant. Watering the plant foliage can cause the plant to rot and die.
Since the plants like humidity, placing them on a tray filled with pebbles and water will help provide the moisture the plant needs. Feed your plants monthly with a liquid plant food designed for houseplants.
Anthurium is another great plant that is popular during the holidays and can make a really nice holiday table decoration.
These plants can grow in the most diverse habitats and do really well in our hot, tropical climate. Unlike the delicate cyclamen, these plants will serve well as both a holiday table decoration and as an outside potted plant. These plants are native to both Hawaii and also South America. They are also readily available at most local garden centers.
Anthurium are relatively easy to care for and enjoy. They have very attractive foliage and can produce flowers almost year round! They prefer a growing medium that is course and well drained. The best mixture is a composite of peat moss, pine bark and perilite. These plants like to be watered completely and then allowed to dry slightly before watering again.
Anthurium will grow either indoors or out and will do well in very bright locations. I have had tremendous luck with my plants under the protected overhang of my front porch. They also require regular fertilization in order to keep their lush green foliage and colorful flowers. Fertilize using a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote for indoor plants.
Although I have never had any pest problems with my plants, they are susceptible to the usual indoor pests such as scale, mealy bugs and aphids. If problems arise, use a plant insecticide that is designed for indoor plants and be sure to spray all parts of the plant, especially under the leaves.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.