Flower of the Month

Poinsettias

Poinsettias 800 490 Kari

Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima) also known as Christmas Flower

With over 2 million sold each year, making it the largest potted flower crop grown in the US. No other plant quite symbolizes Christmas like the poinsettia. With more than 100 varieties of colours in reds, yellows, whites, pinks, streaked, solid, marbled or multicolored it makes it hard to choose just one for our homes or businesses to add to our Christmas décor.

Named the Christmas Eve Flower or Flor Do Noche Buena, the poinsettia is a shrub indigenous to Mexico and Central America where it will grow up to ten feet tall. It belongs to the group of plants called spurges and was used by the Ancient Aztecs to produce a reddish-purple dye used for clothes or cosmetics and the sap it produces was made into medicine and used to treat fevers. The flowers, which are not flowers but leaves are called bracts, they change colour by gaining anthocyanin pigment as the nights get longer after the autumnal equinox. The flowers are actually the yellow bead like bits in the centre of the bracts called cyathia. When choosing your poinsettia choose one that looks strong and healthy, it shouldn’t be on display with the plastic/paper cover pulled up over the foliage as this will make the leaves mold and die and one that the yellow flower hasn’t opened yet, the plant will last longer than one that has already bloomed.

In the 1828 the plant was named by historian William H Prescott after the first US. Minister to Mexico an avid botanist, Joel Roberts Poinsett. In 1825 Joel sent clippings from Mexico to his home in South Carolina. He began growing the poinsettia in his greenhouses and later would send plants to his friend and different botanical gardens. Eventually it was cultivated and sold as cut flowers and later on it started to be promoted as an indoor ornamental potted plant for Christmas.

 

Caring for your poinsettia

Once you have chosen the perfect poinsettia for your home, be sure it isn’t exposed to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes. When carrying from the store to your care be sure the leaves are covered from the cold.

Once home place where there is natural light, where the sun doesn’t shine directly on the plant, keep it away from hot and cold draughts, don’t over water as it only needs a little water once the top of the soil feels dry (over watering will cause it to mold and die)

Most dispose of their poinsettia once the holidays are over, you can keep it during the year and it can bloom again next Christmas. Here is are some instructions to help you care for your poinsettia all year long.

 

DECEMBER to MARCH keep watering as needed

APRIL to MAY the colour will fad, keep near a sunny window and when new growth appears you can fertilize with a 20-20-20 mix, cut back the stems to about 20cm

JUNE to AUGUST – repot if needed, fertilize again with a 20-20-20 mix, continue to water when soil feels dry and once temperatures are warmer at night (above 10 degrees) it can be moved outside and place in a mostly shaded spot

MID SEPTEMBER – take inside, cut it back leaving 3 or 4 leaves per shoot, place in a sunny space and water as needed and fertilize again with a 20-20-20mix

MID SEPTEMBER to NOVEMBER – keep in dark for 14 hours a day

DECEMBER – after 10 weeks of dark for 14 hours it can be brought out and put back in a sunny space, stop fertilizing at this point, keep watering as needed and if all went well it should be back in bloom and ready to begin the process all over again.

 

 

 

Cone Flowers

Cone Flowers 960 639 Kari

Cone Flowers (Echinacea Purpurea) Perennial, zone 3-9, Full Sun

Cone Flowers, also known as Echinacea are a daisy like flower with a raised center. Once upon a time they only came in a shade of purple or lavender with a dark centre cone. Now you can find these early to midsummer blooming flowers in bright a colourful shades of white, green, yellow, orange, reds, pinks and multi coloured, this is from all the hybridization that has taken place. These rugged flowers need a min of 5 hours of sun a day and will grow from 1.5 to 3 feet tall. They are great for attracting butterflies, bees and the seeds found in the dried flower heads will attract songbirds to your garden.

Cone Flowers are Deer resistant, heat and drought-tolerant, but they will do much better if watered regularly. Their blooms will last for a few weeks, once the flowers have faded they should be deadheaded to keep them in bloom all summer. To promote birds to your garden you will need to keep the late flowers on the plants to mature and seed. You can wait till spring to cut back your cone flowers, leaving them standing through the winter, to feed the birds. Cutting them back in the spring will help promoted a bushier plant with a longer blooming time during the summer.

They have some wonderful medicinal benefits, the plant, flower and root of some types can be used in herbal remedies to treat various diseases such as scarlet fever, blood poisoning, diphtheria, to reduce the effects of a common cold and flu, to reduce a fever, soothing sunburns or minor skin irritations, alleviate pain. Many people take Echinacea to help build their immune systems and boost the body’s fight against infections. Like any other vitamin or drug, you should never take anything unless it is discussed with your doctor first.

Oriental Lilies

Oriental Lilies 1000 1000 Kari

Lilies – Oriental/Asiacit (Lilium) Perennial, zone 4-8, Full Sun

Everyone loves lilies, they have an elegance that is unsurpassed. With their large, bright, showy trumpet like blooms and options of many varieties and colours. By planting a blend of early, mid-season and late blooming varieties you can enjoy these beautiful flowers from spring to fall. Some lilies can be very fragrant and some have no fragrance at all. They can grow up to 2 – 4 feet tall, with some speciality types growing up to 6 feet tall, returning with more to enjoy each year.

Lilies are very easy to care for, they need well drained soil and 6 – 8 hours of sun per day. If it is too shady they become spindly and can fall over as they try to lean towards the sun. The blooms should be deadheaded as the flowers fade, this helps the plant not waste energy making seeds. It is important not to cut back the stem and leaves until the fall when they have turned brown and died off for the season. The leaves help provide nourishment to the bulb for the next season.

They are often used in floral arrangements and bouquets. They have healing and softening properties by extracting the oil. The oil can be used in baths, after baths, for massage, as a facial moisturizer, for babies, hot oil treatment, dry elbows, feet or cuticles and as under-eye oil. It works wonders for very sensitive skin.

Peonies

Peonies 1229 819 Kari

Peony (Paeonia) Perennial, zone 3-8, full sun

 Peonies are loved for their delicate, beautiful, fluffy spring blooms and lush foliage that lasts all summer long. Peony plants will grow up to 3-4 feet high and up to 3 feet wide. They are usually very fragrant with some varieties fragrance more moderate than others and can thrive for up to 100 years. They are deer resistant, however you may notice a lot of ants on your peony buds, they won’t harm the plant. The ants are attracted to the buds sweet sap and will disappear once it has bloomed. Blooms will last for up to ten days, to help them last longer plant them in a space that will provide a bit of shade during the heat of mid-day.

Most Peonies will need support during blooming time, as the big gorgeous blooms are sometimes heavy and can cause the stems to break. To avoid this install a support such as a peony/tomato cage or stakes and garden twine. To avoid damaging your peony the cage should be positioned in place in the early spring, when the peony starts poking out of the ground.

When the Peony is finished blooming for the season and the petals have faded it is advised to deadhead/cutback the dead blooms. The foliage will stay nice and full for the remainder of the season and will allow the plant to save energy to increase growth for next season. Once the first fall frost has killed off the foliage, then the plant should be cut back to ground level.

 

 

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart 1600 1070 Kari

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) Perennial, zone 3-9, part shade/part sun

Bleeding Hearts are a traditional favorite springtime bloomer that will grow 2-3 feet tall and can get up to 3 feet wide. It has long arching branches of lovely dangling hearts that come in a number of different species and in colours of pinks, reds and white. Bleeding hearts are deer and rabbit resistant and can be poisonous to your pets if eaten in large quantities.

This delicate flower should be planted in a well-drained area that is sheltered from the wind. Since it will go dormant for the end of the summer months it is advised that it be paired with another later blooming plant that will fill in its space later in the season. To increase its time in your garden, water regularly, even after it is finished blooming. It is not advised to cut this plant back once blooming is over, leave its foliage in place as this helps strengthen the bulb for the future. Once leaves have yellowed and plant has slipped into dormancy, then dead foliage may be removed.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox 330 200 Kari

Creeping Phlox (Phlox Subulata) Perennial Ground Cover, zone 4-8, Full Sun

Ground Phlox produces a deep green carpet needle like foliage that blooms in early spring. It’s small vibrant, five pointed, starry like flowers in shades of pink, white, lavender, red or blue and are known to be one of the most colourful options for a ground cover. This evergreen perennials will grow approximately 6 inches tall and will spread up to 2 feet wide.

Creeping Phlox is low-maintenance, hardy, deer resistant, and can grow in difficult areas. It is often used to cover up or camouflage unsightly sloped areas, rockeries or to brighten up rock walls, ledges, railings, and along walkways. It is also often used for bordering along flower beds.

After the first bloom had died off, shear back the stems, this will promote a second bloom. As the Creeping Phlox ages it will produce long spreading stems, which become woody. Over time these woody growths will not produce flowers, to encourage new growth that will bloom, the woody stems should be cut off. The plant will continue to grow and the foliage will stay lush and green over the rest on the summer season. It should be left till late fall, when it can be cut back for spring growth, this will allow for rejuvenation and will help to produce more compact stems.

Air Purifying House Plants

Air Purifying House Plants 1280 722 windermeregardencentre6721

Air Purifying House Plants

Most people spend more than 90% of their day indoors, this means the quality of air you are breathing is important. Our homes and workplaces are full of toxic compounds such as formaldehyde, exlene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene, bacteria, molds and more.

Ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health are indoor air pollutants. The biggest cause of this is lack of air flow in our homes and work spaces, causing pollutants to build up in greater amounts then we should be breathing. This can cause a number of health risks, including increase chance of having a stroke, heart disease or lung cancer, sick building syndrome, increased respiratory infections in children, it can increase asthma attacks, as well as symptoms of fatigue, nausea, skin irritations, dry cough, eye, allergies, dizziness, and personality changes. These are only a small amount of issues, there are just too many to list.

Research has shown one of the best ways to improve air quality in your home or workplace is plants. As plants absorb carbon dioxide they are also absorbing harmful toxins from the air, especially in spaces with little air flow.

Not only do plants help with to make your air healthier they have been proven to make people overall happier by increasing mood and productivity, enhance concentration and memory, and reduce stress and fatigue. So here is a list of some options for air purifying plants to try in your home.

Collection of eight different studio-isolated shots of gorgeous indoor plants.

• Aloe Vera
• Eucalyptus
• Peace Lily
• African Violets
• Spider Plant
• Chinese Evergreen
• English Ivy
• Chrysanthemum
• Boston Fern
• Dracaenas
• Bamboo Palms
• Rubber Plants

Before you purchase your indoor plant, do some research and read the tags. Make sure you have a suitable place in your home or workplace for it to grow properly, do you have enough sunlight or too much etc. Also some house plants are very toxic to pets, be sure you are purchasing plants that won’t harm you pets.

 

“Plants give positive energy! So make yourself happy, plant a plant!”

– COLLEEN