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Add some colour to your home with winter flowers


The Christmas trees are down, the bright decorations are packed back up again and now your house seems a bit, dare we say it, bland.

There is nothing like a pop of colour this month in your home to momentarily distract you from the winter wonderland that is just outside your door.

Here are some flower choices for your home that can make even those of us that lack a green thumb proud.


The heart-shaped leaves and butterfly blossoms make cyclamen a favorite. Cyclamens flourish in chilly temperatures with indirect or filtered bright light, moist but well-drained soil, and foliage that is kept completely dry. Florist’s cyclamen is the most widely available. Latinia hybrids, whose red, purple, or salmon “flame” flowers boast a white blush and, in some cases, a sweet scent. If your house is warm, try the new Metis miniature hybrids, which promise prolific blooms even in less-than-ideal conditions.


The orchid-like flowers of the Streptocarpus make it enticing and its long period of bloom makes the plant desirable. Streptocarpus has seen a recent boom in hybridization resulting in numerous compact cultivars, including the popular Streptocarpus ‘Joker’ and the Bristol’s Series, heavy bloomers that fit into a windowsill. Once settled in cool, indirect light, they can be quite tolerant of occasional neglect.


Complement the scent of holiday conifers with the subtle sweetness of winter-blooming Jasmine. Given bright light during the day and cool nighttime temperatures, this plant produces a blizzard of white flowers that train easily around a hoop.


There is no “foolproof plant,” but in terms of winter color, Kalanchoe is about as close as you can get. When days are short and indoor conditions are dry, kalanchoes burst with star-shaped flowers ranging from yellow to purple if kept in direct light. Pinch back the stems when straggly and water when soil is dry and these succulents will embellish south-facing windowsills all winter.


Not all types of Begonia will produce a reliable show of color. Only rhizomatous and winter-flowering begonias are stimulated, instead of stunted, by decreasing daylight. The rhizomatous beefsteak begonia boasts glossy leaves that are red on the reverse and a crown of bright blossoms. Other easy but prolific bloomers include B. ‘River Nile’, which has star-shaped leaves and bright pink blossoms, and B. ‘Freddie’, which has bronzed, foot-long leaves and tall spikes of dark pink flowers.


This flower is a popular gift item because its bulb doesn’t require chilling to produce beautiful flowers. A relatively new development in the world of winter blooms is the commercial introduction of trumpet and cybister varieties of amaryllis. For a trumpet-shaped, pink blossom anchored by a bright green eye, choose ‘Pink Floyd’. If you prefer exotic flowers, ‘Ruby Meyer’ (a cybister type) has spidery petals with vivid chartreuse edges. To initiate growth, place amaryllis in bright sunlight and water whenever the top 1/2 inch of soil is dry. A cooler site is fine once growth has commenced, and will prolong the life of the bloom.


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