AZALEA INDICTA (Rhododendron simsii).
These aristocrats of the
winter-flowering houseplants can, with care provide a mass of colour throughout the
holiday season with their red, pink or white blooms.
TEMPERATURE: 10-15C/50-60F is ideal, avoid hot airless
LIGHT: Choose a brightly lit spot, away from direct sunlight.
WATERING: Keep the compost PERMANENTLY WET, preferably by plunging the
pot in a bucket of water for 5 minutes and then allowing any excess water to drain away.
Rain-water should be used in very hard water areas. As a rough guide, the
bottom centimetre of the stem should be dark in colour (indicating that water has soaked
up into the bark), if the dark area is less than this the plant is too dry, if more then
it is too wet (most unlikely !!). Feed with houseplant food weekly during flowering period
(or even better use Sequestrene/Miracid plant food).
AFTER-CARE: After flowering move the plants to a cool frost-free place
(re-potting if necessary using an ericaceous compost), moving them out into the garden in
late May. They should be kept well fed and watered in the garden until mid-September when
they should be brought in for flowering.
Cyclamen are one of the most attractive and popular houseplants
for winter flowering.
TEMPERATURE: 10-15C/50-60F. Avoid cold draughts, also very
LIGHT: A good light level is required, but avoid direct sunlight.
WATERING: Soak well from below to avoid pouring water onto the leaves and
corm (from which the plant grows) as this may cause rotting from the base of the plant.
Allow the compost to dry out slightly between waterings. Feed with houseplant food weekly
during flowering period.
AFTER-CARE: After flowering reduce watering and stop feeding until the
foliage turns yellow. In late May place the pots outside on their sides and keep dry until
new growth is seen in the summer, when the corm should be completely re-potted using a
suitable compost. Watering and feeding should be started after re-potting and the plant
brought inside in mid-September.
POINSETTIA (Euphorbia pulcherrima).
This houseplant has become enormously
popular over the last couple of decades with the introduction of modern varieties and
dwarfing techniques. Whilst red remains the most popular colour, pink and white forms are
TEMPERATURE: 15C/60F is ideal. Temperature must not fall
below 13C/55F for prolonged periods of time.
LIGHT: Maximum light during winter but protect from full sunlight in
WATERING: Allow the compost to dry out between watering. Over-watering
will lead to loss of colour and possible leaf drop. Mist frequently during flowering. Feed
with houseplant food weekly during flowering period.
AFTER-CARE: After flowering plants are usually discarded, although it is
quite possible to keep them for flowering the following year using the following
technique. Allow to dry out and after leaf fall cut back the stems to 4 inches from the
compost surface. Keep cool (but protected from frosts). In May re-pot in a suitable
compost and begin watering, feeding as shoots appear. Remove some of the new growth to
leave 4/5 of the strongest stems. From late September, cover with a dustbin liner from
early evening until morning to give the plant 14 hours of total darkness each evening for
at least 8 weeks. This period of darkness will help to initiate flowering. Follow
temperature, light and watering instructions above.
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