Although we are experiencing an incredibly mild winter this year winter, we still have to contend with many cloudy grey days and the long dark nights that come with the season. To help counter this wintertime dreariness, cultivate some flowering plants to add cheer.  Here are a few of my favorite, easy to grow and out of the ordinary, winter flowering plants.

Camellias

When New Englanders think of Camellias we generally think of the southern climes- Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.  However with the right varieties and of course proper care, camellias will flower in bright, cool, interiors over a long period in the winter.

Camellia still in flower Photo: L Alexander

This white flowering beauty has graced my home with glorious blossoms since Christmas and it’s still producing buds. To keep it in vigorous growth it goes outside in the spring in a semi shaded area where I feed and water it regularly throughout the summer.  When killing frosts are predicted I take it in and put it in a bright place and wait for its performance- which always starts just before Christmas.

For accurate cultural information and lists of nurseries that sell camellias view the web site of the American Camellia Association: http://www.camellias-acs.com/default.aspx

 

Strelitzia reginae

"Bird" Photo L Alexander


 

Bird-of-paradise or crane flower (Strelitzia reginae) is a native of South Africa and is closely related to the banana.  Used as a landscape plant in warmer regions, strelitzias will flourish and flower indoors in our northern clime.  They are robust plants with few disease or insect problems; my 7 foot tall plant has been putting on bold floral displays for years.  The plants are easily started from seed, although it will take several years to establish a flowering size plant.  There are several dwarf varieties available. When kept in a cool bright room in winter, the “birds” will start appearing in January or February.  Their bold blossoms, a combination of blue petals and orange sepals emerge from a beak-like bract (modified leaf) and provide a cheerful, exotic ambiance to a winter room.  Move plants outdoors for a vacation in summer; they will flourish in moderate to full sun.

See the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service site for cultural information for Strelitzia:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg106#FIGURE%201

 

Clivias

Clivia the Bush Lily belongs to the lily family (Liliaceae), they are relatively large plants with sword shaped arching leaves, vibrant flowers cluster are produced just above their luxurious foliage. Bright orange is the primary flower color but they range from deep red-orange to pale yellow. Many of the yellow cultivars are rare and highly prized.  Mature plants are generally 2-3 feet tall and almost as wide, they need to be kept root bound to flower and can be maintained in the same pot for years.

 

Clivias are native to the subtropical forests of eastern South Africa, they are understory plants adapted to low light. Their dark shiny evergreen leaves make clivia an attractive foliage plant when not in bloom. They are very easy to grow and flower when the proper sequence of feeding/watering and cool night temperatures are followed.

For complete cultivation instructions and plant history go to the American Clivia Society’s website

Clivia Photo L Alexander

http://www.americancliviasociety.org/