Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Nurseries coax this winter bloomer into flowering at the end of the year for its classic Yuletide colour. Poinsettias are known for their fiery red bracts (modified leaves) around small white flowers that sit above deep green foliage. Grow outdoors in warm climates or indoors in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight. Once the red leaves have fallen, prune back to 20cm stems and feed with a slow-release fertiliser. As the leaves and seeds are poisonous and the sap is an irritant, keep it out of littlies’ reach.
Christmas lily (Lilium longiflorum)
This elegant lily produces trumpet shaped blooms at Christmas time, which can fill a room with delicious scent for weeks. Plant in a free-draining spot with compost-enriched soil, in sun to light shade. Water well and mulch around the base. But avoid this one if you have cats as all parts of it are toxic to them.
Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)
The moth orchid can flower for several months in the right conditions – with temperatures above 15ºC, in good light (not direct sunlight) and humidity (place on a saucer of pebbles filled with water, but don’t let the plant touch the water). Water when the potting mix has almost dried out, incorporating a dilute soluble fertiliser about once a week.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.)
On stalks of up to 30cm high, these blooms can last between four and six weeks. After flowering, remove the stalks, continue watering and apply a liquid fertiliser to replenish the bulb. Water until autumn, then allow the soil to dry out to initiate flowering again. Repot into fresh potting mix in July and resume watering. Note that the sap and bulbs are toxic to people and pets.
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