NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 11, 2013

Tim's Tips: Holiday plants add a festive touch

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — There are a number of plants that you can have in your home or business for the holiday season. In the past few weeks, I have told you about poinsettias. Now, let me tell you about two more of the plants you can get at this time of the year.

Cyclamen is a bulb that is grown in a pot. It enjoys cooler temperatures in your home or business. My grandmother had one close to a window, and it flowered for her all through the winter months. The plant is a close-knit cluster of leaves. Flower stems grow up from the bulb and rise above the leaves.

The flowers come in red, white, pink and lavender. The plant grows best in bright light and needs to be kept evenly moist. Old flowers should be removed promptly to keep the stems from rotting and damaging the bulb. Fertilize the plant about once a month, and it should continue to flower all winter.

Amaryllis is another winter-blooming bulb. It produces long, straplike leaves that hang over the edge of the pot. The flower stalks rise from the bulb, and, at the top of the stalks, there are usually four trumpet-shaped flowers. Each bulb can produce one to four flower stalks. The number of flower stalks you get is determined by the size of the bulb. Naturally, larger bulbs will produce more flowers.

Red is the traditional color of the amaryllis. However, there are many other colors you can find. It may be a bit late to start one for Christmas blooming, but you can buy pre-planted bulbs that will flower in time for Christmas. The amaryllis should be grown in very bright light until the flowers are ready to open.

Growing the plant in bright to sunny conditions helps keep the flower stalks shorter. Those big clusters of flowers can make the plant top-heavy if the bulb is grown in subdued light. Allow the soil to go slightly dry between waterings. If you have never tried growing this bulb, it is worth finding a place in your home for growing one of these plants.

To change the subject, many people came in this past weekend talking about the winter moth. These moths are flying around like crazy this time of the year. This is their mating season, and the population appears to be very high this season. The moths lay eggs that will hatch out in the spring. The caterpillars will do major damage to the leaves of the trees in your yard.

The question that people had was what could they do to kill the moths. I suppose you could swat the moths to kill them. I suppose you could use some type of spray to kill them. However, there are so many of them out there that trying to kill the moth is probably futile.

Your best bet is to treat susceptible trees in the spring, before or just as the leaves begin to appear. Treating your plants in the spring is the best way to minimize damage to the trees. I will give you more information about treating your plants when the appropriate time comes in the spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.