Some plants die or enter a resting stage during the winter; however, plants that are cold-hardy survive. Flowering plants that survive in the winter produce blooms that can keep the garden beautiful even in the coldest weather. Among winter flowers, those that produce red colors are more popular than many others are because red connotes a festive quality (and is particularly popular during the holidays).
Cyclamen persicum produces beautiful blooms of scarlet, magenta, red, purple, mauve, fuchsia, lavender, coral and white flowers. It grows up to 12 inches high and produces leathery, deep green leaves that have marble-like lines. Hardy in zones 9 to 11, cyclamen can grow indoors or in light shade outdoors. Planting in well-drained soil is necessary to avoid rotting of roots. Feeding every 3-4 weeks is ideal for cyclamens.
Over-fertilizing produces excess leaves and few flowers. Diluting a water-soluble fertilizer to half-strength will prevent over-fertilization. Maintaining good air circulation around the plants is essential to prevent disease.
Amaryllis is a flowering bulb that blooms easily indoors or outdoors. Amaryllis produces large flowers of red, pink, white, orange and salmon colors, which re-bloom every season. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences’ fact sheet on amaryllis states that when properly cared for, a single amaryllis bulb may produce flowers for up to 75 years.
Placing the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours prior to planting is necessary to induce development of stems. Planting amaryllis bulb up to its neck in nutritious potting compost and pressing the soil down firmly will set the bulb securely in place. A slightly acidic soil mixture, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is preferable.
Planting in late September or early October in 68 to 70 degrees F under direct sunlight is ideal for amaryllis. When planting indoors, a south-facing window that gets direct light will ensure rapid growth. Amaryllis flowers up to 10 weeks.
Poinsettia, also known as Euphorbia pulcherrima, is an exotic plant that is a common household holiday decoration. It is a short-day plant because it flowers about 10 weeks after the daylight shortens about 12 hours or less. Keeping poinsettia in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. from the first week of October until third week of November will ensure that the plant is in full bloom around Christmastime. Exposure to light during this time will delay flowering.
Maintaining poinsettia at a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees F during the daylight hours will keep the plant in bloom. Avoiding temperatures lower than 60 degrees F will prevent root rot diseases. Hot or cold drafts may cause premature leaf drop. Properly cared-for poinsettia will re-bloom the following winter.