Unless you spend your winters escaping the North for a tropical getaway, the seemingly endless amounts of snow here in Bismarck can take a toll after a while. After the warmth and joy of the holiday season passes and we're left with the bleakness of January, it's normal to feel a little sad—seriously, it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder ( or "SAD"). For us green thumbs, surrounding ourselves with winter-flowering houseplants is pretty much the best therapy around. Luckily, there are plenty of flowering plants that provide life and color throughout the cold season!
Of all the winter-blooming plants, poinsettias are undoubtedly the most iconic. Their deep green foliage and vibrant red, flower-like bracts tie in well with holiday decor, making them quintessential centerpieces during the season. But their convenient bloom time and festive color scheme aren't the only reasons why they're so popular-their significance is actually rooted in a tale of a young girl who grew up in a Mexican village.
The young girl, Pepita, and her cousin, Pedro, were walking to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. Instead of feeling joyful, Pepita was filled with sadness as she had no money or gifts to bring Jesus, as other people do. Her cousin comforted Pepita, reassuring her that any gift, as long as it was given with love, would be acceptable. With that, Pepita picked a bouquet of weeds from the side of the road to bring with her. As she laid her gift next to all the other, more lavish gifts around the manger, the weeds transformed into a beautiful red bouquet. Since then, these red flowers have bloomed along the roadsides of Mexico each year during Christmas-stunning symbols of love and joy.
As if their radiant beauty wasn't enough, their heartwarming origin story is another great reason to have these symbolic houseplants around during this time of year.
Although they're typically displayed just for the holidays, proper care for your poinsettias will keep them blooming much longer. These Mexico natives need lots of sunlight to keep their bracts looking bright. Place them near a sunny window so they receive at least 6 hours of bright indirect light each day.
While they should be close to natural light, protect your plant from cool, drafty windows by keeping poinsettias at least a few feet away. They also shouldn't be placed close to furnaces or other direct heat sources. It shouldn't surprise you that these showy, winter-blooming plants prefer relatively cool temperatures. They can tolerate 65-70˚F during the day, but let the temperature drop to about 60-65˚F at night. These cooler temperatures help to maintain their vibrant color.
The most common "rookie" mistake people make with these plants is overwatering them. Given their tropical plant status, it's an easy mistake to make. These plants still need a regular watering routine, but they'll develop root rot if they're waterlogged. Make sure your container is equipped with drainage holes, and empty the saucer soon after watering to ensure the plant doesn't sit in the excess water. Water thoroughly, but only when the top inch of soil has dried out completely. After the leaves and bracts drop or shrivel up, you can cut back on watering even more.
When spring (finally) arrives in Bismarck, you can resume a regular watering and feeding schedule, just like the rest of your houseplants! Prune the stems of your poinsettia to promote new growth. Later in the summer, you can pinch back new growth to encourage a bushier plant.
Other Winter Flowering Houseplants Poinsettias are pretty, but that doesn't mean we have to stop there! These ruby-hued beauties aren't the only indoor plants that flower in the winter to choose from. Here are some of our favorites:
Amaryllis: Also called Belladonna lily, the big, stunning blooms of this flowering bulb are impossible to miss. Although they're only distantly related to other lilies, they have a distinct lily shape and display vibrant shades of red, pink, and white. They naturally flower indoors during the winter, giving your home a warm, tropical touch when it's needed most. Plant amaryllis bulbs in a heavy pot with well-draining soil enriched with organic matter. Feed your plant with a high phosphorus fertilizer to encourage the biggest, brightest blossoms.
Christmas Cactus:This festive feature is a lovely houseplant for the holidays, with its bright pink-red blossoms. Don't be alarmed if they don't show up right on time, though—some years, this plant can be called Thanksgiving cactus or Easter cactus. Regardless of when it flowers, it's sure to brighten up the bleakness of winter when it does! As a tropical succulent that hails from the jungles of South America, keep this houseplant away from direct sunlight and spritz its foliage with water often. Don't worry about repotting Christmas cactus too soon—they thrive in compact, cozy environments
African Violet: With the proper care, African violets can actually bloom continuously, even through the winter. Their dark green petals are lovely, but the allure of their violet petals is unparalleled. As easy as they are to grow, it takes some effort to keep them blooming. Make sure they have lots of bright but indirect light—at least 12 hours or more daily. During the winter, use a grow lamp to supplement the lost sunlight. Water them well with lukewarm water, flushing out the salts that accumulate in the soils. Be careful not to get their lower foliage wet. As flowers fade, snip off the spent flowers to encourage the formation of new ones.
Whether you're getting your home into the holiday spirit, or you're just trying to make some of that spirit last until spring, winter-flowering houseplants are great ways to bring joy to your home. Visit us at Plant Perfect to add a little extra life to your winter decor.