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Select a Cheerful Wintertime Basket of Flowers!
Since wintertime is often long and dreary in many areas, select only very healthy plants with vivid, colorful blossoms and a variety of foliage color, shape, and texture. This will add interest and eye appeal to your arrangement, as well as a continuous array of cheerful blossoms.
Gloxinia (Sinningia Speciosa)
also called Florist's Gloxinia Gesneria
Gloxinias are perfect pot plants as both their foliage and colorful blossoms are exceptionally showy. Also, they will thrive in the peat- moss based soil we're using here. Most Gloxinias usually reach about 10 inches in height. Their oval-shaped leaves on short stems are soft and velvety, growing symmetrically in opposite pairs from their tubers.
The brilliant flowers of Gloxinias are trumpet-shaped and are also velvety-textured. Their flaring petals are often 3 to 4 inches across. An expansive assortment of rich colors and bicolors available includes pink, purple, white, red, blue, coral, and a host of others. Gloxinia flowers have very deep throats, often boasting splendid hues that contrast beautifully with the petals.
Gloxinias prefer bright light as opposed to direct sunlight. Keep their soil moist, but avoid overwatering -- and, don't mist the foliage or flowers! Avoid placing them in a drafty area or their flower buds may drop before they have a chance to open. Gloxinias can be fed a houseplant fertilizer about every two weeks to maintain healthy growth.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x Buckleyi)
sometimes known as Zygocactus
When one thinks of a "cactus" it seems natural to associate it with the desert. However, the original home of the Christmas Cactus is actually in humid forests. This particular species will also thrive in the soil we're using in our basket.
The foliage of Christmas Cactus is very interesting, in that its dark green flattened stems are made up of segments. As the plant grows, new segments then grow from the tips of existing ones. In mature plants, their stems arch gracefully over the edges of their containers. Since this species is very slow growing, it is a good choice as a companion to the other flowering plants selected for our wintertime wicker basket.
Contrary to its common name, most varieties of Christmas Cactus usually bloom AFTER Christmas. Their flowers are formed at the tips of their stems, and are very slow to bloom. The blossoms of this species are tubular, and grow to about 2 inches long. Magenta or rosy red colors are the most common, although new varieties and colors are always being bred.
Christmas Cactuses (or Zygocactus) prefer moist soil when growing and like normal room temperatures. Misting their stems regularly will also help provide additional humidity which they like. Since most garden centers sell Christmas Cactus when they are blooming, you can select a lovely flowering plant in your choice of colors to plant in your evergreen lined container.
Cyclamen (Persicum primulaceae)
also called Florist's Cyclamen Primrose
Cyclamens are an outstanding pot plant. With the many new hybrid varieties that have been developed, your choices are myriad. The "Florist's Cyclamen" hybrids bloom almost year-around, although they are usually more popular in wintertime, making them another grand choice for your cheerful winter basket.
The foliage of Cyclamens varies almost as much as their flowers. Some are marbled with silver, others have varying shades of green, while still others sport deep green leaves. Some miniature varieties have also been developed, having very small leaves. Larger Cyclamens reach heights of 12 inches, while others grow to only 8 or 9 inches.
It is not uncommon for Cyclamens to sport 20 to 30 delicate flowers on one plant! Cyclamen flower petals range in colors from pink to white, coral, red, purple, and also a wide array of bicolors. Some of the miniature varieties have showy soft petals of mauve, red, and pink as well as striking bicolors.
Cyclamens prefer bright filtered light, but don't like direct sunlight. When watering your Cyclamen, don't pour water directly onto its tuber. This may prove a bit tricky since we're planting it as a companion plant here. Although Cyclamens don't really mix well with other plants, it won't hurt to plant at least ONE beautiful variety to cheer you during the gray days of Old Man Winter. When it has finished blooming, you can easily remove it to a pot of its own if you plan to keep it long-term.
Feeding with a houseplant fertilizer every two weeks is recommended while your plant is flowering. When your Cyclamen's flowers begin to fade and die, twist off the entire stalks rather than just their blossoms. Also remove any leaves that turn yellow or look damaged by twisting them off.
Planting and Care Tips
- Remove plants from their nursery pots, being careful not to break their stems or blossoms.
- Keep as much of each plant's original soil as possible.
- Space plants attractively in basket, allowing room for growth and spreading.
- Firm the soil around each plant, patting it gently with your hand.
- Water lightly following initial planting, then water regularly as noted.
- Place finished basket in an area where it can be easily cared for.
- Watch for any noxious insects that may attack your plants.
A Final Thought
All flowers were created to be enjoyed, if only for a season. So have fun when planting your very own "Wintertime Delight Basket!" If your flowers bring you cheer and help see you through Old Man Winter's gloom, they will have served you well. And remember -- springtime always follows winter, just as darkness slinks away when the morning sun breaks through.
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