Welcome to winter

If you are reading this on Dec. 21, welcome to winter. Winter officially begins today and Christmas is frighteningly close. Hopefully you, unlike me, are a responsible adult and have all your Christmas gifts bought and sorted out. Maybe even wrapped. If you are like me at Christmastime (one word — procrastinator) and still need all of your gifts, there are some houseplants that do well during the cold winter months that make great presents.

Poinsettia: I talked about this plant a few weeks ago. With its bright red leaves and association with the holidays, poinsettias are easy to find right up until New Year’s. It is the type of plant a lot of people tend to throw away after the holidays but if given proper care, its bracts (red leaves) can be maintained until early spring. According to Utah State University, once the bracts begin to fall off, cut the plant back leaving only a few buds. The plant will look like a stick for a few weeks but if watered and fertilized properly a poinsettia will begin to leaf out again around May.

Amaryllis: Do not ask me how to pronounce this beautiful flowering bulb. I just know they are as abundant at a grocery store around the holidays as poinsettias are and they were my grandpa’s favourite flower. If you’re looking for something living to add to a gift basket or as a standalone gift, amaryllis is a memorable choice. Similar to a daffodil or tulip, amaryllis begins as a bulb and is often sold as a kit containing the bulb, a lot and a growing medium. almanac.com says they are naturally a spring-blooming build which produces flowers at some point between late winter and mid-spring; however, producers often force amaryllis to bloom earlier in winter just in time for the holidays.

Christmas cactus: In my experience when a Christmas cactus begins to bloom, it doesn’t stop. My mom has one that was given to her and its long-lasting festive flowers stick around well into the summer months, which makes it a great plant to add to someone’s collection. Treat it like an aloe vera and keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Water the plant every two to three weeks and its colourful flowers, which vary from red, pink, and even lilac, will add some colour to any home even when the sun is too cold to come out in the winter.

Rosemary: With rosemary, you can knock off several categories at once; a savoury herb, holiday decor, an addition to an outdoor garden, and a great houseplant with a history of good fortune, rosemary is a jack-of-all-trades sort of plant. chatelaine.com says during the middle ages, smelling rosemary’s sweet scent on Christmas Eve would bring homeowners a new year of health and happiness. You can find rosemary nowadays in big box stores and is often shaped like a tiny holiday tree. Rosemary loves to reside in a bright, sunny location and if cared for properly will last for several years as an indoor houseplant (just don’t overuse it for spicing up your holiday meals before it has time to grow back).

If you procrastinate as much as I do, these holiday-themed houseplants are not often out of stock at any grocery or box store that carries plants during winter. It is not too late to add something colourful and festive to a friend or family member’s gift!

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