Christmas houseplants

The shops are brimming with some beautiful Christmas houseplants at the moment - but some are better than others. Here’s how to get the pick of the pots.

Cyclamen
Cyclamen. Image: Thompson & Morgan
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Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus. Image: Thompson & Morgan

Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus like it bright and warm. Don’t move them too much or they may drop their flowers. If you’ve already got a plant from last year, then it will flower better if it’s been exposed to bright light. If you have just bought your plant, it will have been nurtured for the best floral display possible. Let it dry out a little between watering and never leave it standing in water or the roots will rot. Stand your pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water and mist occasionally with a dilute plant fertiliser.

Cyclamen

When choosing a cyclamen, look in the centre of the plant. Make sure there are plenty of little flower buds and no signs of grey mould. Keep them cool, somewhere like a  bedroom, hall or porch. If they get too warm, the leaves will turn yellow in days. Cyclamen like to be kept slightly moist, so water them regularly. Every three days is about right, just keep the compost moist.

Orchid
Orchid. Image: Martin Mulchinock

Moth orchids

Phalenopsis (Moth orchids) are a great Christmas gift and easy to care for. They do best in a warm, light spot. The flowers will last for weeks. Don’t overwater them; the roots will rot, if in doubt it’s better to underwater than overwater. Healthy roots should be thick and a greeny yellow in colour. Spray the plant leaves with an orchid mist feed weekly.

Azaleas

Pick azaleas with healthy green leaves and masses of tight flower buds. They’ll flower for longer in a cool room, but can cope with warmer spots. Most of all, they need lots of watering so give them a soak in the sink for a few minutes every day. That way they’ll go on looking blooming wonderful well into the New Year. Azaleas are fantastic on the kitchen windowsill. They’ll do well in other rooms too, but the warmer it is, the faster they’ll finish flowering.

Poinsettia
Poinsettia. Image: Martin Mulchinock

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are the traditional yuletide favourites. Buy them from a shop or garden centre, never from an outdoor market where they might have caught a chill. Look for plants with healthy green leaves, avoid any that are dropping leaves or turning yellow. Once home, keep them in a warm, light room and only water them when they start to dry out. They hate being overwatered, so wait until the surface of the compost starts to feel dry before watering and let any excess water drain away.

Richard Jackson

About Richard Jackson

Richard has enjoyed a very varied career in gardening from working for world renowned Hillier Nurseries to being Gordon the Gopher’s personal gardener on BBC One’s ‘Going Live’. After setting up and running garden centres in London, he was invited to do a spot of gardening on TV and, to his surprise, enjoyed it. Twenty years on, he’s still doing it, and can be seen most weeks on QVC.
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