Mark Cullen's tips on keeping indoor plants healthy
Giving or receiving seasonal blooming plants is all the rage at this time of year. For Christmas the poinsettia is by far the number one choice and red is the number one colour.
- The red "flower"' is actually set of leaves, called bracts.
- The plant is not poisonous. This has been proven many times in university tests. If you ate enough of it you might get a tummy ache. But then the same can be said for mandarin oranges.
- Poinsettias need bright light. You should allow the soil to get dry to the touch between watering and remove the decorative -- and waterproof -- container after a week or when you bring it home. Also, put the plant in a spot where you can avoid drafts from open doors and heating vents. Follow these tips and your poinsettias will last for up to 16 weeks.
Azalea is a "permanent" indoor flowering plant that enjoys a bright room but not direct sun light.
- Water well when the surface of the soil becomes dry.
- After the plant flowers, pull back on the frequency of watering.
- When May arrives, plant the azalea in your garden, pot and all, on the north or east side of your house and out of the direct summer sun.
- Allow the early frost to give it a kiss come October or November and bring it indoors to flower again for Christmas.
Amaryllis is the easiest plant of them all to grow.
- Place the amaryllis plant in a bright window, water well until flowering then pull back on watering.
- As each stem finishes flowering, cut off the long stem and compost it.
- Allow the leaves to continue to grow and mature over time -- these are the "food factory" of the bulb.
- With a summer rest in the garden, your amaryllis plants will re-bloom again next year.
Cyclamen is a "cold hardy" plant.
- It performs best in a cool room at approximately 18°C. The cooler the room, the longer it will flower.
- Cyclamen plants also need infrequent watering.
As for orchids, the "moth" orchid is a member of the largest plant family in the world.
- Allow the plant to dry between waterings.
- Keep your orchids in a bright room.
- Mist daily for best results.