The snow and ice have come early this year and done a good job of finishing off much of the colour outdoors – and anyway the days are so dark and gloomy that we are all much happier inside with a nice hot cuppa and a good book.
But wait! - there are plenty of house plants that can brighten the gloom!
One of my perennial favourites is the Christmas cactus which is just now starting to show its colours. For much of the year this plant stands unloved and pretty much uncared for in a quiet dark corner of a room, quietly minding its own business. Just when you have all but forgotten its existence out comes a magnificent flourish of flaming red flowers that brighten the room and lift your spirits.
First to show are the thin glossy buds against a shiny green swathe of succulent ‘leaves’ followed quickly by a very showy flower.
They really do need very little care and are so rewarding at a time when colour is most welcome.
Another plant rapidly gaining in popularity is the orchid – now there are many different types of orchid but one of the easiest to care for is the Phalaenopsis orchid. The joy of these is that with a little care they can flower for months on end – not only providing excellent value but also a bit of a challenge when trying to get them to flower again after the flowers that came when you bought the plant finally fade and wither. I don’t profess to be any sort of orchid expert but with a little experimentation an orchid that I acquired early last year now has its second flush of around 15 blooms on 3 flower spikes and more are on the way – I’m thrilled!
So just when you have given up on the garden outside why not try bringing some plants inside. There are many to try like Narcissus Paperwhite Ziva (best planted at the end of September in bowls or pots and bought in once ready to flower. Hyacinth can also be forced to flower now and can then be planted out. They add a heady fragrance to any room. At Christmas time though I like to see red and that’s where my Christmas cactus steps in and performs without any fuss.