TAKING CARE OF THE BIG THREE
Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, Poinsettias
Amaryllis originated in the tropical regions of South America, The botanical name is Hippeastrum. The easy to grow bulbs come in red, white, pink, salmon and orange. To plant the bulb, first soak the base and roots in lukewarm water for a few hours. Plant in potting compost up to the neck of the bulb. Water sparingly until the stem appears. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees. The amaryllis will bloom within 8 weeks after planting.
The Christmas Cactus is a members of the Zygo-cactus family native to Central and South America. Although it is commonly called cactus, it is an epiphyte which grows in areas similar to the orchid family. Since this is a tropical plant, it does require humidity and watering. It is best to water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry. An application of 0-10-10 fertilizer should be applied in November and a second application in February. It is best to repot the plant in February through April. However, the plant will flower best if it is root-bound.
Poinsettias were first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, first Ambassador to Mexico. The plant, which grows wild in Mexico, was named after the Ambassador. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias should be placed near a sunny window with temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Root rot may occur if the temperature is below 60 degrees. This plant requires almost daily watering. If the soil feels dry to the touch, water until it runs through the holes in the bottom of the pot. If the plant becomes too dry, the leaves will wilt. If this occurs, water and then water again in five minutes. Do not leave the plant sitting in water. Poinsettias make great container plants in the summer. The stems should be cut back in April or May and fertilized every two weeks. During the summer, stems should be pinched back in early July and again between August 15th and September 1st .