Whether you miss working in the garden because it's too cold outside or just want to add a special touch to a room, indoor plants during the winter can not only make the cold season seem shorter, but can give an idle gardener something to do. You might think that most plants wouldn't do well when kept indoors, but some plants not only prefer to be inside, they might surprise you with some wintertime flowers too.
A popular flower around the Christmas holidays, the amaryllis (Amaryllis Hippeastrum) is a bulbous plant that can grow to 2 feet or more in height, and when forced to bloom inside, produces blooms in as little as six to eight weeks. A single bulb will normally have one tall thick stem that flowers at the top with four individual flowers, but bigger bulbs may produce two stems that will grow upward side-by-side. The blooms come in a variety of colors and are commonly seen in white, pink and red. When starting with just the bulb, it should be planted in a 6 to 8-inch flower pot that has adequate holes at the bottom for drainage. The amaryllis prefers a nutritious potting compost and requires warm direct sunlight to grow. It should have only a minimum amount of water until the first signs of growth appear.
Known as the Christmas Plant, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) first came to the United States from Mexico in 1825. It is most commonly known for its dark green leaves and bright red bracts, but other colors such as white and pink have gained a large number of fans too. It prefers a sunny spot by the window where it will receive any available sunlight and likes moist soil, but it should not be overly wet. Although many people discard poinsettia plants after the holidays, they can be re-flowered for the following Christmas by placing them in complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. at the beginning of the following October and continuing this process through Thanksgiving.
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is a tropical cacti with light to dark green flat leaves that are joined in segments that extend from the center of the plant, somewhat resembling the tentacles of an octopus. It produces dark pink, coral and white tropical looking flowers that often appear in mid fall, but this plant can be trained for blooming in the holiday season if placed in the right conditions. If Christmas blooming is desired, the Christmas cactus should be kept in a cool place (temperature should be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit) for a couple of weeks and will need complete darkness for 12 to 14 hours each day. During this time, it will require very little water. Interestingly, the Christmas cactus tends to bloom better when it is kept in a container that keeps it pot-bound.