Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
Houseplants welcome the turn of the year and the lengthening hours of daylight. Grape ivy, philodendron and other vines grow faster now, ferns unfurl new fronds. Blooming plants, like the wax begonias, impatiens and geraniums pictured above (click to enlarge) bud more freely. I encourage their burgeoning beauty with increased water and food. The following plants are of special concern this month:
Amaryllis. Is the flower stalk appearing on your new plant? If so, move it gradually to light and sun and heat (not above 70 degrees) and provide water as needed. Examine your older stored amaryllis for signs of life. Then replace the old top soil with new, and begin watering. Keep cool and in dim light until the stalk is about three inches high.
Azalea. Place your gift plant away from full sunlight until the flowers have faded. Then give it a bright spot. Coolness (60 degrees or less) and much water, even twice daily, are other needs.
Broad-leaved Foliage Plants. When you recover from the holidays, give your rubber plants, dracaenas, etc., a big thrill. Go over all the leaf surfaces, above and below, with a soft cloth dipped in mild soap suds. Then rinse with a clean wet cloth. Their pores freed of dust, the plants will look and feel better.
Bulbs. If you have tulips, hyacinths, etc., in cold-storage, bring them in now to a cold light window.
Cyclamen. Assure 3 to 4 months of bloom by growing it cold (65 degrees and less if possible), and constantly moist. I maintain an inch or two of water in my cyclamen’s saucer at all times.
Forsythia. It’s not too early to force these branches. Cut sprays at varying lengths, mash the ends with a hammer, and submerge in a tub of cool water for several hours or overnight. Then arrange in a vase. Placed in a bright but cool window, a brilliant bouquet of sunshine-yellow will greet you in about 3 week’s time.
Geraniums. Move the big rested plants, which you potted from the garden and have been growing quite cold, to full sun and warmth, but not above 65 degrees if you can manage it. Water more freely now, and fertilize as you see the plants responding.
Petunias. Grown in full sun or beneath fluorescents, and provided with ample moisture (mine are watered daily) and high-phosphorous fertilizer, these will give you flowers and the accompanying sweet scent of summer even as snow blankets the world outside.
Poinsettia. To insure months of beauty, keep cool and just barely moist. Mine flourish in an east window that receives morning sun.
Primrose. Malacoides, obconica, etc., all require coolness and constant moisture. As with cyclamen, keep water in the saucer at all times.
Roses. Your miniatures will gladly bloom ahead of their June schedule if you place them now in a 65 degree location in full sun or beneath fluorescents. Shower tops weekly to deter red spider and other pests.
Questions about other plants and their January care? Post them below!
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