gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

Have you planted amaryllis or paperwhites? Seeing flowering plants indoors on gloomy, January days is sure to lift your spirits and give you a focal point to a mostly green indoor garden. You may have received some flowering plants at holiday time. How should you care for them? Cyclamen and azalea require good light but not direct sunlight. While they are flowering, feed and water them once a week and after they’ve finished flowering, reduce watering and stop feeding until the foliage turns yellow. In late May, place the pots outside, on their sides, and keep them dry until new growth appears in summer when the corm should be repotted and you should resume watering and feeding. Bring the plants indoors in September and hopefully, they will bloom again. (Or buy a new one!)

Houseplants create a healthier environment, absorbing toxins in the air and filtering out pollutants. Spraying, not only affords them the humidity that they miss in our dry, heated homes, but adds moisture to the space we inhabit and keeps our skin from becoming itchy.

Be careful to keep your plants from touching ice-cold windows. The leaves touching the frozen windows will be damaged and eventually fall off. Turn the plants frequently so that they will grow straight. Let cold tap water rise to room temperature before using and keep plants away from chilly drafts or sources of heat. Placing pots in trays filled with gravel and water will increase the humidity that they require but the pots should always sit above the water level.

African violets need bright, diffused light and when grouped together, can be very effective, with their silver-haired leaves and undersides of rich maroon. Water them from the bottom to avoid blemishes on the leaves.

Unless you have plenty of sunlight, avoid the more delicate bloomers such as orchids and jasmine.

My Christmas cactus, that Eddie gave me several cuttings of, is blooming and is a good example of an interesting plant with its glossy, dark green leaves and salmon-pink flowers. It requires no special care and blooms regularly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What could be nicer?

Enjoy your indoor garden while you watch the snow fall. ~