Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"christmas" flowers

 Some plants are so well known for their bloom season that they are named for it. Although amaryllis and pointsettias are used to celebrate the Christmas season, they do not contain the "Christmas" epithet. Christmas Cactus is well known and sold everywhere. Since my indoor plant collection is intended to ease my winter garden deprivation, I had to have one. Last summer,  I bought this off-season (and without bloom) plant from the closing High Country Gardens. I thought it would be pink, but instead a streaky red that is rather unusual.

Part of the popularity of Christmas Cactus is its ease of growth. Stick a cutting in a pot and soon you have a plant. Blooming is another story. At least for me. It must have a long night in order to bloom. That I can handle, putting the plant in my laundry room. But it needs long nights not just to bloom, it must have long nights to keep its flowers. That's where I have trouble. A week ago, I accidentally left the light on in the room for an hour or two - just one night, and since then, all the buds have fallen off. A couple of well-matured buds still opened, but the dozens of remaining buds are gone. So be forewarned.

Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) is an outdoor plant that I can easily see becoming a favorite. It has been slowly developing buds since Thanksgiving, and today, right on time, it opened.

This clone is called Jacob and he is fantastic. He even bloomed again in the middle of summer. This will become the featured plants of my winter garden, my courtyard, where the fiercest of winter temperatures and winds are moderated. It will soon be shaded by redbud trees, protecting the hellebores from the intense summer sun. These plants like shade, something I'm grateful for.

I also obtained clones of his sibling, Joseph Lemper, from Pine Knot Farms. Although these small plants survived the heat of summer, they are not yet blooming. The clone Nell Lewis, also Helleborus niger, is supposed to tolerate heat better than others, but this has not proven so in my garden, at least with my limited sample of two. One died outright in the summer heat while Joseph next to it survived. The other Nell Lewis,  was well shaded and survived, but did not increase in size. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for next year, since I love these so much.

I think I need to get a plant of Cattleya percivilliana. It's known as "The Christmas Orchid."

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