Category Archives: houseplants

Amaryllis: Perfect Holiday Gift and Decor

Growing an amaryllis for holiday blooms is so easy, just plant and water. Unlike the spring blooming bulbs, an amaryllis bulb does not need a chilling period. Once planted, these large bulbs can grow and bloom in 7-10 weeks. The flowers last for a long time and the plant can be coaxed to re bloom again the following year. You can buy amaryllis bulbs now as hostess gifts for Thanksgiving, give the bulbs to friends for Christmas so they can enjoy the blooms during winter, start the bulbs now to give the blooming plants to friends for Christmas, or start the bulbs now to decorate your own home for the holidays.November2014hyacinthamaryllis 123

This past week, I took a quick look at a Virginia independent garden center and the local Home Depot to see what types of amaryllis bulbs and packages they offered. I discovered that amaryllis can be bought as a single, large bulb, for you to pot up; as a gift box of a “pre-planted” bulb (in a plastic container); already planted in a ceramic container as a gift; and as a gift box of a glass container with a bulb and pebbles (without soil). If you buy only the bulb, you can plant it in soil or place it in a glass vase of water with pebbles. If you plant it in soil, make sure the container has drainage holes or put in plastic pots with drainage holes into decorative containers/lined baskets. Pick a pot 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. Use a well drained potting soil, not the soil from your garden. The upper half of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Water and put in a warm place, around 70 to 75 degrees. When growth appears, place in a sunny window and watch the flower stalks. If they lean, give more light or rotate pot to balance or stake so does not topple over.  Once flower buds appear, move the plant out of direct sun and into a slightly cooler location.

If you want to grow the plant in a vase of water, place about 3-4 inches of pebbles, marbles, or glass rocks in the glass and place the bulb on top so that the top third is exposed. Water enough so the water line is below the base of the bulb. You don’t want the bulb to sit in water but the roots need to be in water. Follow the same directions as above concerning light and temperature.

I have seen only one coamaryllisandsnapdragonOctober2014 002mpany that has capitalized on growing amaryllis in water. Home Depot is selling Bloomaker’s amaryllis in glass jars, complete with pebbles, in a very attractive gift box. If you scan the code on the box, you can see a video of how the plant will grow and bloom in the glass vase. I am already asking Santa for one.

For a variety of color selection, though, buy individual bulbs from the largest independent garden center in your area. I visited Merrifield Garden Center and they have an entire area dedicated to bulbs. You can pick your colors and show them off in pots or in glass vases. If you have time, it pays to look around and stock up on amaryllis for gifts as well as for your own home.November2014hyacinthamaryllis 160

 

 

 

Glowee: Glow-in-the-Dark Houseplant

When my kids were young, we caught fireflies in the summer. As the sun descended, the lawn glittered and we madly rushed about capturing as many as we could by hand. I truly believe that gardening organically led to our bounty of fireflies; I never applied any chemicals to the lawn. When the sunlight diminished our plastic containers were so full they were blinking. The kids put the containers on their nightstands to serve as nightlights but after they fell asleep, I retrieved the containers and released the fireflies back into the yard. The memories of these magical “firefly” nightlights has my kids, now teenagers, excited about trying Glowee, “Glow-in-the-Dark Plant That Light the Night.” The first glow-in-the-dark houseplant, Glowee is a snake plant (Sansevieria) whose long, green leaves glow after being exposed to light.

The Glowee snake plants are grown in 4-inch wide pots by Costa Farms, a Florida-based, wholesale producer of indoor and outdoor tropical plants, houseplants, bedding plants, annuals, and perennials. Glowee will be available for sale at Home Depot stores in Florida in October and at Home Depot stores across the country by the end of November. Currently, they are available in Canada at WalMart.

Although they make perfect kid gifts, (what a great Christmas present!) adults will find them useful in many ways. They are perfect for:

  • Reminding people what time it is. For coworkers or bosses who work too much, they will see the glow as the sun sets, reminding them to knock it off and go home.
  • Serving as outdoor landscape light fixtures. Simply pot them up in large containers along the walkway to the front door during the warm months; the rain won’t wash off the “glow.”
  • Illuminating your summer parties. Place a few on the deck, on your patio table, or in the windows to add a romantic glow during your party after the sun sets.
  • Serving as a “get well” gift that offers more. Imagine giving these as get well gifts to people who are in the hospital, home bound, or bed bound. The glow would put a smile on their face!
  • Holiday gift giving time. Give one for Valentine’s Day with a small, heart-shaped, mylar balloon attached and a card that reads “you really make me glow.”
  • Decorating for Halloween. Although Glowee will be introduced after Halloween, they will be available for Halloween next year. Put these glow in the dark houseplants in haunted houses or use as centerpieces for Halloween parties!

When I asked how they glowed, Justin Hancock, Consumer Marketing and Digital Specialist, Costa Farms, explained that it is propriety information but he assured me that the plants are not toxic and are not genetically modified. The Glowee plants will glow with different intensity and for varying amounts of time based on the brightness, duration, and type of light to which they are exposed. He said the more or longer the light exposure, the better and longer the glow. Justin explained that his own Glowee plant at home is in a west-facing window, gets direct sun, and glows for 3 to 4 hours after the sun sets. There is a stronger, longer lasting glow with direct sunlight while fluorescent lights work better than incandescent lights in rooms without windows. The leaves of Glowee should retain the glowing capability for years. New growth will not have this capability; however, this particular species is so slow growing there will be very little new growth. Snake plants in general are popular, low maintenance houseplants.

photo of Glowee courtesy of Costa Farms, left image in daylight, right image in dark to illustrate glow

Glowee photo courtesy of Costa Farms. Left image in daylight; right image at night.