Louise Grabell, Master Gardener
University of Arizona, Pinal County Cooperative Extension
The holidays are upon us and outdoor gardening is for the future. Winter is the time to focus on indoor plants and outdoor plans. You might even be the recipient of some holiday beauties, like poinsettia or cyclamen, etc., and I’m going to tell you what to do with all of nature’s bounty.
Let’s do this alphabetically: Amaryllis is a favorite gift for the holidays. Easy-peasy! Amaryllis is a bulb that will thrive outside in your garden once it completes its indoor blooming cycle. Wait for the flower stalk to dry – but keep watering. In early spring, plant the bulb in your garden in a mostly sunny spot with some irrigation and prepare for more blooms and more bulbs to develop.
Cyclamen is next and it is similar to a bulb and can be planted outside, in an irrigated container if you prefer. Unlike the tall amaryllis, cyclamen is very short and would get lost in a garden. Cyclamen goes dormant, so plant annuals in the same container because the cyclamen will not reappear until next fall.
Someone might give you an orchid for the holidays. How lucky can you get! Orchids are not as finicky as some might think. Water your orchid only once a week. Orchids grow in bark chips (a substitute for the bark of a tree which they normally grow on). I like to soak my orchid thoroughly and then try to remember when seven days have passed! Orchids are epiphytes, so their roots are never actually buried in moist soil. Contrary to popular thought, they don’t need perpetual moisture. You can’t plant your orchid outdoors. However, during monsoon season, I would suggest a shaded outdoor spot for a month or two. You know, fresh air makes you feel better, so why not the orchid?
Miniature roses are a popular holiday gift and if you are the recipient, rejoice! Your miniature rose not only loves the outdoors; it won’t mind frost or freeze. Wait until early spring and plant the rose in a container and with regular watering and fertilizing, you will have a bevy of flowers before you can say, “Where’s the warm weather?”
Poinsettias are certainly a Christmas favorite and brighten up any room for the holidays. The colorful bracts are long-lasting provided the container is properly watered. This means allowing the top surface of the soil to dry before watering. Many poinsettias come with pretty foil wrapping which covers the plastic pot they are in. Watch out! Water tends to collect inside that wrapper and can cause the roots to rot and total loss of the plant. Either unwrap your poinsettia and stand it in a dish, or at the very least, poke some holes in the wrapper. In tropical climates poinsettias grow outside into huge bushes taller than you are, but they won’t do well outside in your hot, dry yard. Keep it growing as long as you can then say goodbye.
Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.