lynn coulter

Amaryllis

'Flamenco Queen' produces big blooms of white and green petals that look like they've been painted with a splash of fuchsia.

Pre-packaged amaryllis are easy to grow. All you have to do is open the box, take out the pot, water and wait for flowers to appear. The blooms last longer in a cool room.

When the flowers fade, cut the stem back to two inches above the bulb, and put the plant in a sunny window. Water when the soil feels dry, and fertilize every 2 to 4 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Move your amaryllis outside in late May or early June, gradually giving it more sun. Water and feed as needed, but don’t re-pot. These bulbs like to be pot-bound.

Bring the bulb in before frost. It has to go dormant before forming new flowers, so keep it at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 weeks. Don’t water or fertilize during this time.

To re-start the growth cycle, add a ½” of fresh soil to the pot and return it to a warm, well-lit room. Water once until new leaves appear. You may not get flowers every year; sometimes the bulb needs a couple of years to gather enough energy for them. Just repeat this cycle of care until flowers emerge, or – as with other holiday plants — compost the bulb and buy a new one.

Paperwhites

Pretty paperwhites are often forced to bloom at Christmas time in water or soil. If the stems threaten to fall over, tie them loosely to a small stake or twig using raffia or ribbon. Keeping the flowers in a brightly lit spot will help prevent weak stems.

Once the flowers open, move them out of direct light and into a cooler spot so they’ll last longer. If the bulbs are planted in soil, keep it lightly moist. If they’re in water, add more as needed.

Even when they’re transplanted to the garden, paperwhites seldom rebloom, having already used up all their energy during forcing. Toss them in the compost when they’re finished, or take a chance, if you wish, and plant them to see what happens.

Rosemary

It’s fun to grow fragrant rosemary indoors, especially when it’s trimmed to look like a miniature Christmas tree. To succeed with this herb, give it 6 to 8 hours of bright light each day, even if you need to supplement with artificial lights.

Water your rosemary only when the top of the soil feels dry, but don’t let it dry out completely. Drain any excess water to avoid root rot.

Rosemary can be tough to keep alive indoors, because it’s prone to attack by powdery mildew. Use a small fan, or keep the plant in a spot with excellent air circulation, to help avoid this disease.

You might prefer to transplant your rosemary to the garden, but wait until all frost has passed. It can grow outside year-round in frost-free regions. Rosemary needs soil that drains easily and full sunlight.

Bring your plant back in when the temperatures drop to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If spider mites or other pests show up, spray with an insecticidal soap, but remember: don’t cook with or consume rosemary after it’s been treated with any kind of chemicals. Even if you can’t use it in the kitchen, it’s still a fragrant ornamental you’ll enjoy growing.

Cyclamen

While some cyclamen species are hardy to USDA zones 7 and up, most sold during the holidays are florist’s cyclamen, or Cyclamen persicum, and can’t survive below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

After your cyclamen finishes blooming, let the plant gradually dry out for 2 to 3 months to induce dormancy. You can move it outdoors then; there’s usually not much to look at, anyway, because the leaves often die by April. Turn the pot on its side or check it often so rainwater doesn’t accumulate and cause the tuber to rot. While the plant is dormant, repot it in fresh soil.


Cyclamen Shines Indoors or Out 7 photos

Start watering again when new growth appears, usually in September, and bring your cyclamen in before the temperatures drop to 50 degrees. Give it bright, indirect light and good humidity, and new flowers should eventually appear, although there may not be as many as before.

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