A winter flower display.

Winter-flowering Displays

As the days become shorter and the plants in the garden start to die off, many of us turn to the garden center or nursery to look for ways to brighten up our homes. Fresh flowers from the florist are often expensive at this time of the year, so it makes sense to invest in some well-cho­sen flower ng houseplants that will give you plea­sure as you watch them grow and flower throughout the winter months.

This is the season when mass-produced “gift” plants come into their own — begonias, cyclamen, kalanchoes, and Christmas cacti. These plants will all bring a welcome splash of color into your home, but remember that they are cultivated in the nurs­ery in a co at rolled environment and like to be kept at a constant temperature. Azaleas, in particular, hate being exposed to sudden drafts of cold air — even the short journey home from the garden cen­ter or nursery can shock these plants and make them shed their flowers — so make sure you have them packed up carefully in plastic before you leave the building.

Most houseplants will benefit from being massed together in one container, rather than being positioned all around the house randomly, so try to buy as many plants as you can afford to create a really impressive display. This is particularly true in a large room, where a single display of four or five Christmas cacti or Hiemalis begonias, grouped together in a large clay bowl or rustic-looking bas­ket, can appear quite spectacular.

One of the drawbacks of “gift” plants, such as cyclamen and begonias, is that they rarely go on flowering for more than a month. These are gener­ally regarded as short-term houseplants that should be discarded after flowering. One plant that has a slightly longer flowering season is the pot chrysanthemum, which comes in almost every color except blue.

If you don’t like the idea of throwing your plants away after they have finished flowering and you do not have a conservatory, sunroom, or spare room where you can give them a rest before bring­ing them into flower again next year, then the best alternative is to invest in a flowering houseplant with attractive foliage, such as a zebra plant (Aphelandra) or Rex begonia, which will provide interest throughout the year. The peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) is another good house-plant for winter, with elegant pure white flowers held above glossy, long, pointed leaves, which look attractive even when the plant is not in flower.

Flowering and berrying plants for winter

The following plants all flower in winter: African violet (Saintpaulia cvs.), Azalea (Rhododendron simsii), Begonia x hiemalis, Calamondin orange (x Citrofortunella microcarpa), Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Chrysanthemum (Argyranthemum spp.), Cyclamen persicum, Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata), Flamingo flower (Anthurium scherzerianum), Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), Monkey plant (Ruellia makoyana), Ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum), Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)