Los Fresnos News

Christmas plants

By ANN JOHNSTON
LFN

Tis’ the season to find Poinsettias in grocery stores, hardware stores, flower shops, and nurseries. They are everywhere! And in our Magic Valley, when you are through decorating inside with them, plant them outside. By Valentine’s Day, the weather should allow you to safely put them outside to live.

The red, white, or pink “blooms” on the plant are really specialized leaves. The very small yellow middle is the true flower. (Similar to our bougainvillea plant “leaves” and flowers.

Rosemary plants trimmed up like Christmas trees are potted ready to give as a gift. Photos: Ann Johston / LFN

When the “flower” begins to die or look scraggly, cut it off and shape the plant into a bush. If you plant it outside or keep it potted, it will need to be trimmed slightly every few months so that the branches don’t get leggy and long. Then the “flowers” will be sitting attractively on a bush shape.

HINT: The plants need about 6 hours of darkness away from porch lights, area or street lights to develop the colored leaves- a type of “dormant period”.

Paperwhite narcissus bulbs are readily available during Christmas season. They can grow in a narrow or shallow container with pebbles and water. They can grow outside but consider them annuals since we have no dormant period for them.

Small Norfolk pines and bright Cyclamen brighten the holidays.

Rosemary plants shaped into small trees are sometimes decorated with tiny ornaments. After the holidays, plant it outside. The rosemary bush now has a second life as an herb for your garden. They are perennial and grow fine down here.

Another plant you find during this time is the Christmas cactus. It is not really a cactus but is a succulent. It is too fragile to plant in a bed. They are easy to care for in a pot inside or on a sheltered area like a porch.

They do tend to snap off at “joints” if bumped. But these pieces can be covered with soil in the pot, watered, and will root. They have very pretty blooms of red, orange, pink, or white.

HINT: A large pot planted with several colors is very striking when they bloom together.

Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus are boxed and bagged to be gifts.

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