Now that freezing temperatures have arrived in Greater Columbus, there are very few gardening tasks for gardeners to do outdoors. If you’re like me and ever want to start growing something again, consider growing plants for holiday decorations.
Live plants can add a festive touch to any type of holiday decorations you choose, and gardeners who already feel the need to put their hands back in the soil can get their green hands back to work growing holiday plants. traditional. Let’s take a look at some plants that can be grown for use as indoor holiday decorations.
Forcing paperwhite bulbs
Consider adding a twist to traditional greenery topped with red and gold accents this season by forcing white paper bulbs to add elegant white blooms to any holiday decor. Paper blanks (narcissus tazetta) are bulbs in the same genus as daffodils, and their delicate, fragrant flowers in white and yellow hues atop long, slender stems are the perfect backdrop for most holiday decorations and provide color contrast for the branches. greenery background with traditional red ribbons and bows.
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Forcing is the term used for when a plant blooms outside of its natural season, and most bulbs lend themselves well to forcing. Most flower bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and others can be forced to flower indoors during the winter, but these bulbs must go through a cooling period ranging from 3 weeks for daffodils to 16 weeks for tulips. Paperwhites and Amaryllis are the only flower bulbs that do not require a chill period to bloom as they are native to tropical regions.
Start paperwhites now for Christmas flowers
Paperwhites bloom four weeks after planting, so start now so you have blooms during the height of the holiday season. Most garden centers offer paperwhites for winter planting, with some offering bulbs already planted and growing in decorative pots. Paperwhites can be planted in potting soil but can also be grown without soil, in water on decorative gravel, rocks or even holiday colored marbles.
Part of the fun of forcing paperwhites for holiday decorations is deciding which container they will be grown in. Bulbs can be grown in containers, vases, teapots, jars, mason jars or almost any container that gives an accent to your holiday decorations. Single bulbs planted in jelly pots make excellent hostess or teacher gifts.
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To force paperwhites without soil, start by adding 1 to 2 inches of gravel or stones to the bottom of a container, then place the bulbs root side down on the stones (pointy side of the bulb facing up). Then place rocks on the sides of the bulbs until only half of the bulb is visible above the rocks. Then add water to a depth just below the bottom of the bulbs. The bulbs should not lie directly in water. The container should be placed in a location with plenty of light and water added as needed.
Forcing amaryllis bulbs for holiday decoration
Amaryllis flowers in many shades of red, pink and white also make great winter holiday decorations with their large, trumpet-shaped blooms atop tall, stately stems. Amaryllis (Seahorse genus) is a bulb native to Central and South America and takes its name from a Greek word meaning “sparkle” – and a grouping of these plants is sure to add a bit of sparkle to your holiday decor.
These bulbs typically take six to seven weeks to bloom after planting, but discerning gardeners can still have blooms in time for Christmas and New Year celebrations by purchasing pre-planted bulbs available at local garden centers and gift shops.
To care for your amaryllis, be sure to keep soil under the top of the bulb to help prevent fungal diseases. Water thoroughly when the soil feels dry to the touch, about once a week. Place it in a sunny window and turn the pot occasionally to keep the plant from bending over as it grows.
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Bring the poinsettias out of the dark
If you’ve tended your poinsettia plants since last December to bloom again this holiday season, and you’ve kept your plant in complete darkness for 12 hours a day for the past 10 weeks before Thanksgiving, your plant should have developed colored bracts. (or leaves). Poinsettias are short-day plants that need an uninterrupted period of darkness each day for 10 weeks to develop new bracts.
Once the colorful new bracts have fully developed, you can end the daily dose of darkness and move the plant to a sunny spot in your holiday decor. Be sure to keep the soil moist and stop fertilizing.
Mike Hogan is an agriculture and natural resources extension educator and associate professor at OSU Extension.