Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday plants and all that

Did I mention how much I hate poinsettias in my last post? (Yes, now shut up about it.) I know, but the other thing about them is all the foil wrapping. The plant is not that assertive, so invariably you end up noticing the tacky wrapping more than any of the growing parts. They are also very difficult if not impossible to maintain as a houseplant; you have to do weird things in the basement. Hardly worth it, one would think.

Now, on the other hand, there are plants normally associated with the holidays that are well worth the room they take up in one of your two south-facing windows. My friend Cheryl and I have kept our oldest Christmas cacti plants going since the eighties. I must say hers is by far the most impressive; I guess mine never gained back its momentum after early smoke damage. In any case these blooming machines require hardly any care and bugs don’t seem to like them. They look good in and out of bloom, but the flowers are impressive—indeed, rather orchid-like, in various shades of hot pink and red.

I love all four of my hippeastrums (amaryllis to many of you), though since I let them thrive as houseplants and don’t put them down for dormant periods, they tend to bloom rather late. Still.

On the paperwhite front, things are a bit shaky. The explosive leaf growth has not been matched by equal bud development—not enough sun, probably. We’ll see.

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