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one green planet

The winter holiday inspires us to adorn our homes with garlands, wreaths, and other things that sparkle or jingle. It is a lovely way to mark the yuletide season and bring some warmth to the house during the cold months.

Instead of (or as well as) trimming with inanimate objects, there are lots of fun and stunning ways to decorate using seasonal plants. Foraged fronds of ivy, holly, and mistletoe make their way indoors this time of year and are tossed out in early January.

If you have a green thumb or aspire to have one, you could adorn your place this winter with potted plants that bring joy, festive color, and life.

Have a look at this list of plants, some traditional, others experimental, that could easily have a place amongst the most festive of decorations.

1. Christmas Cactus

Source: Garden Answer/YouTube

The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular holiday potted plant because, if cared for, sports the most gorgeous red flowers right around the holidays.

You could buy yourself a Christmas cactus from a nursery or find a friend who already has one since they are really easy to propagate from a cutting. You will notice that the ‘branches’ of the cactus have little segments. All you need to do is break one of these segments off and leave it to heal for a few days.

Once the wound has healed, push the broken end about 1/2 inch into cactus potting soil and keep it lightly moistened. After about two weeks, new roots should have grown.

Keep your established Christmas cactus in a spot that receives a lot of bright natural light but away from direct sun. This may damage and burn the leaves. It needs to be watered weekly but does not tolerate wet feet, so make sure that the pot can drain.

To force blooming around the holidays, you will need to provide your cactus with about 12 hours of complete darkness for about 6-8 weeks. This can happen around the end of September and the beginning of October. Once you see buds forming, revert to the previous method of care.

2. Rosemary

Though it might not be the most obvious holiday plant, a small potted rosemary bush makes a perfect miniature yuletide tree. It makes a lovely centerpiece for a holiday dinner table and brings a deep festive scent, too. You could even go as far as decorating it as you would a larger pine or fir tree.

Though normally grown outdoors, you can quite easily tend to an indoor potted rosemary plant during the winter months. After the last frost of spring, you will be able to plant it out in your herb garden or repot it into a larger container and keep it as a potted plant on your porch or balcony.

An indoor rosemary plant will need lots of light so a sunny windowsill would be an ideal spot. As for watering, it is best to underwater than to overwater. Check the surface soil and when you feel it to be dry, give it a little water. You don’t want the soil to be waterlogged, so make sure that the water can drain away.

You may also mist the plant daily to help keep some humidity.

3. Amaryllis Bulbs

Source: Garden Answer/YouTube

Amaryllis is often referred to as a winter lily due to the gorgeous red (and sometimes white) flowers that bloom during the winter holidays. Their dark green foliage and bright red blooms are reminiscent of other more common holiday plants such as holly and poinsettias.

If you want to have blooming amaryllis bulbs for the holidays, you need to get your bulbs in soil by October. It takes about 5-8 weeks from planting for the flowers to bloom. The number of stalks and blooms you get from each bulb will depend on the type and size of the bulb you get, so read the packaging carefully to make sure you get what you want.

Find a pot that is big enough to hold your bulb or bulbs. Pant the bulb so that the part where the shoots will sprout is out of the soil.  You want to keep this part free of soil and water. You may then dress the soil with pebbles or moss and decorate the pot with festive paper or ribbon.

Next, water the bulb and put it on a sunny windowsill. Water sparingly until to see green shoots emerge, then water them once a week.

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