Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making The Most Of Gift Plants Azaleas Planting Guide Cyclamen

For Christmas and Mother's Day, garden centers are bursting with bright flowering plants - welcome gifts, but they need a little care to keep them at their best.
Poinsettia Plant Growing: Poinsettias have striking bracts. They like a warm, well-lit spot and a soil mix that's kept just moist. Most people discard them once the red or white bracts have fallen, but if you like a challenge, grow them for the following year. In late march, leave the plant unwatered for three weeks, then cut it back to 4 in/10cm and water and feed as normal through summer.
To produce the colorful bracts again, keep the plant in total darkness (by covering with a black plastic bag or putting it in a closet) from 6 AM to 8 PM, for a period of eight weeks starting in september.
A gift basket is a delightful showcase for ivy and african violets.
Azaleas Planting Tips: Azaleas also thrive in warmth and light, but it's essential to keep the soil moist at all times. These are acid-loving plants, so if you are in a hard water area, use fresh rainwater or boiled (then cooled) water. In spring, after the last frosts, repot if necessary and sink the pot in a shady spot in the garden, watering and feeding regularly. Bring indoors in fall and move into a slightly larger pot using acid soil mix. With luck, you should have another fine show of flowers.

Cyclamen Planting Instructions: Cyclamen are often regarded as temporary plants, but we know of one that has flourished for a staggering 54 years. Ty he secret is to keep them as cool as possible without letting them freeze (a cool porch or greenhouse is ideal). A feeding every two weeks will prolong flowering, often for several months. They will begin to go dormant after flowering, so gradually reduce watering until they are completely dry and store in a cool, dry place. New growth should start in summer, and you can repot them in fresh soil and begin to water again.

Temporary Plants: Chrysanthemums and cinerarias also appreciate cool conditions, which will keep them in bloom for several weeks. They are, however, once-only plants and are best discarded after they flower.
Equally temporary are the very pretty mixed arrangements in baskets and bowls such as the one shown at left. They are crammed so full that the plants will soon exhaust the soil mix. Admire them for a few weeks, but then carefully split them up and put them into individual pots.

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