Give plants

January 17, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgFlowers are University of Georgia horticulturist Paul Thomas’sspecialty. And, for holiday plant suggestions, they’re his toppick. But when asked, “What was the best plant you’ve ever gottenfor Christmas?” his answer is: “A ming aralia that I got from mymother-in-law. It’s strictly a foliage plant, and it looks like abonsai. It’s really awesome.”Ming aralias, specifically polyscias fruticosa ‘elegans’, havecarrot-like foliage and woody stems as they get older. A mingaralia was “the plant for kings and queens to have,” he said. “Itgrows slowly and beautifully.”While they are beautiful and do make good gifts, they’re also achallenge, he said. The biggest danger is overwatering andover-fertilizing. They only need a tiny bit of diluted fertilizerevery few months.When it comes to buying gift plants, the best place to purchasethem is at a local florist’s shop. “They have the best quality,and they’re grown by specialists for the highest quality,” he said.Thomas likes to give flowering plants as gifts. A deep basketfilled with a few pots of colored calla lilies or a basket with acluster of cyclamen topped with white or silver grass “makes astunning gift,” he said.For gift giving, Thomas suggests:• Calceolaria. The flowers look like a pocketbook, which gives itits common name of ‘pocketbook plant.’ “It’s just cool andunusual,” he said. Flower colors range from yellow to bright redwith polka dots. The flowers are delicate, so handle it carefully.The plants must be kept moist but not flooded with water. Theylike sunny windowsills that are cool but not freezing. There,they’ll last about a month. They can’t be saved and plantedoutside in Georgia, because they will die of plant diseases.• Cinerarias. These plants look like daisies, but their colorsare more intense, or, as Thomas puts it, they have “five timesthe impact” of daisy flowers. The blossom colors range frompurple to yellow.Like calceolaria, they need sunlight and water. “Don’t let eitherof these plants dry out ever,” he said. “I put them on my coffeetable during the day and on the windowsill at night.” They willlive about six weeks.• Cyclamen. These plants bloom white, pink or bright red. Theycan be found in grocery stores, aren’t expensive and are a greatsubstitute for poinsettias if someone is allergic to latex, whichis found in poinsettia plants. Kept cool and moist, cyclamenblooms will last three to four months. “Buy five or six plantsand put them in a big basket with white or silver grass, like thekind they sell at Easter,” Thomas said. “It makes a really niceChristmas gift.”They’re also a good gift plant if the holiday you celebrate isn’tChristmas. Because they are native in Israel, they are a goodchoice as a Hanukkah plant, he said.• Miniature roses. These tiny blooming beauties can do doubleduty as both a holiday plant and a garden attraction come spring.They prefer cool spots inside until all chance of frost haspassed. Then plant them near the foundation or in anotherprotected area of the yard.• Calla lilies. “Normally, people would buy bouquets of callalilies, but sometimes florists will sell calla lily bulbs inpots,” Thomas said. When growing calla lilies, their bulbs shouldbe kept moist and their flowers dry. The stems also need to bestaked so they won’t fall over and break.“Three to four pots in a deep basket are a really nice gift,” hesaid. “They’ll last a long time.”Before visiting a local florist, give them a call, Thomas said,especially if you have one type of plant you might want to giveto several different people. “Get your orders in now to get thebest quality for the Christmas season,” he said.last_img read more