This week’s post is from guest writer Emma Metson, blogger of Fixtures and Flowers. Emma shares with us some of her favorite indoor houseplants that bloom in the cold days of winter. Many thanks to Emma for posting this week’s article!
Being that winter is the coldest season of the year, you probably would love to just stay at home, wrap yourself around a thick blanket, and drink a hot drink. Maybe sit beside your fireplace, and you’d be perfectly fine.
But what about your houseplants?
We obviously can’t just put a blanket on them and call it a day. Many types of plants simply cannot survive the harsh weather. However, no need to fret; there are some that do!
Let’s talk about different types of houseplants that bloom in the winter.
(also known as the Christmas Cactus)
The appropriately named Christmas Cactus is a wonder. It blooms around Christmas time, making it the perfect gift for your friends and family. However, with its long green arms, it is still attractive all year round. Furthermore, this plant can be considered pet-friendly since it isn’t toxic to cats and dogs.
The Schlumbergera bridgesii is an epiphyte (one that non-parasitically grows on top of another plant) and is native to Brazil.
When your Christmas Cacti is still in its growing phase, it needs the right kind of soil. We recommend a mix for succulent houseplants or sterile potting soil mix. The soil must be fertile and well-drained. If you take the time to learn about the different soil types, it will help you massively in this journey.
Also, it needs to be in an area where light isn’t found for most of the day. Thus, it is best to keep it in a room where it can have 12 – 15 hours of continuous sleep in the dark. This is especially true if its flower buds have not set in yet because it can only withstand light when it has already grown.
This winter blooming houseplant should be kept away from sources of heat —e.g. the fireplace and heaters. The Christmas Cactus is known to blossom longer when kept in cold temperatures. Somewhere between 18 – 22°C (64 – 71° F) is a reasonable estimate. With that being said however, a little direct sunlight can prolong its blooming. Just make sure that they aren’t overexposed to avoid harm.
As for good watering habits, the Schlumbergera bridgesii doesn’t like to be overwatered, as with any plant. However, it does like to be misted on a daily basis.
Only a few diseases can affect this plant; however, if they strike, they can be lethal. If you find any damage, like basal stem rot, on your plant, it’s best to be guided on what it is exactly and how to treat it.
This plant, more commonly referred to as the “Florist’s Gloxinia” to distinguish it between its cousins, is usually grown indoors. This tuberous plant comes from the flowering family Gesneriaceae.
If you’re planning on getting one for your home, keep in mind that they cannot survive without a bit of light. Avoid putting them in a room that is mostly bathed in darkness; instead, place them in an area where a bit of sunlight can shine through. If there is a spot where they can receive indirect sunlight, like beside a window, that would be ideal for its growth.
Once it blooms, you can expect large, bright, velvet-textured leaves to grow in the shape of a bell. Although the Sinningia speciosa is commonly used as a houseplant, they can also be planted near non-deciduous trees. Mix and match this plant with your other red, lavender, or pinkish indoor herbs, and you’re sure to have a pleasant looking indoor garden.
What about its watering needs?
Before watering again, use your finger to check if the soil has dried up from its previous bath. If it is dry enough, that’s when you should bathe it again. However, during the winter season, water less frequently. If you’d like, you may also use rainwater or greywater, but you have to make sure that the water isn’t acidic.
Bonus tip: This plant is also related to the African violet (read below); thus, you can use the African violet potting mix should you already have it. Take care of its soil. It should receive liquid fertiliser at least once a month.
(also known as the African violet)
Considering buying and growing the African violet? It is highly recommended! Not only does it flourish in winter, but it does so with grace. Having a fresh violet in your home is sure to add colour and vibrancy to your living space.
There seems to be a myth going around that the Saintpaulia ionantha is a hassle to take care of. They say it’s fussy and fragile. However, we’re glad to say that this is just a false rumour. As with everything, you need to know what you’re doing in order to achieve the desired results.
The number one mistake plant owners commit is giving too much of what the plant needs —e.g. water and sunlight. Queen’s “Too Much Love Will Kill You” was right after all. Balance is key. If the plant gets too wet, rot will set in. Also, if it is too dry, its leaves will droop.
Just as with the Florist’s Gloxinia, water only when the soil is dry enough. Use your finger to poke at the soil to check. Watering once a week (depending on the climate of your part of the world) is a good baseline. The same goes for the fertiliser. The African violet needs it. It will undoubtedly grow better with fertiliser than without, but too much will be the cause of its untimely death.
A technique savvy gardeners use when growing new plants is to separate the plants from each other. There are multiple reasons for this.
One of which is that by using this method, the owner can determine in which area of the house it is best to grow the violet. A second, less apparent reason is that in case one of the violets gets infested with pests, it will not affect the others. Good tip! Keep this one in mind when you’re starting out.
Maintenance and scheduling are key!
Especially when you have different types of plants with different needs, it becomes very easy to lose track of everything. Thoughts like “Did I change the potting mix already for this one?” or “When was the last time I watered this?” can erode your thoughts. The fact is, growing your plants is most likely not the only thing you’re doing in life, so it can get confusing.
Thus, it is vital to create a schedule and incorporate your plants needs to your daily routine. It may get hectic at first, but it will become effortless over time. You’ll get used to it, so don’t worry too much.
Maintain those plants. Know that owning and taking care of one is a commitment. The moment you slack off and neglect to water them or to put them under the right temperature, they will wither. However, being able to take care of winter blooming houseplants successfully is a joy that only a few other things can give you. So keep at it and best of luck to your journey!
About the author: Emma is a part-time property developer, part-time home improvements and gardening blogger at Fixtures and Flowers, and full time Mum. Given her background, Emma has a lot of advice, tips and tricks that she loves sharing on her blog.