January is a month that few gardeners look forward to. Bank accounts are depleted, waistlines stretched to bursting point and the thought of Christmas cheer feels like a distant memory. A glance out the window will do little to lift the spirits, with plummeting temperatures, snow and ice all lined up to give you the winter blues even if everything else fails to.
Twitchy Boston gardeners missing their usual fix can while away the days and weeks gazing out at bare beds, grey skies, ice and snow and picture a string of long dark months stretched out before them. But there is another way, a way to bring light into the darkest of New England winter days.
Exotic plants grown in your home are a wonderful way to fight the winter blues. They bring a colour and vibrancy to cheer even the gloomiest of gardeners and their rich and complex smells will enliven the spirit and brighten your house.
The brilliance of their colours enrich the soul and the challenges they present to the avid gardener are different to the ones faced for the rest of the year, keeping you and your skills sharp and keen.
There are so many varieties of plant and flower that are both exotic and suited to indoor growth during the winter months. But here are just five suggestions to help lift the mood and brighten your home. And remember, spring is already on its way.
What’s not to like? Beautiful, delicate and with a rare and varied explosion of colour that makes it a must-have in any winter home. There are now more than 30,000 pure species of the orchid which mean there is one for almost every set of conditions. They will need to be watered carefully and placed in a position where the sun can bathe them gently for at least a few hours a week, but, despite their frail appearance, they are remarkably hardy and will fight their way through most winters. Pick one and enjoy the uplifting results.
Citrus plants make fantastic additions to your winter collection. The smell alone will bring a smile to your face and a reminder of spring and summer aromas. But these are evergreen plants and what is more they flower during the winter months. To get the very best out of them all you have to do is pick the right spot. An ideal place will see them given plenty of sunlight and occasional water. These plants hate too much water but if you can add nutrients you will reap the benefits. Be careful to keep them away from radiators or heaters and if you can do all that you will be in for a treat. Orange trees are also fantastic and although they are not cheap.
The Kaffir Lily a.k.a. Clivia
This is a beautiful South African plant with spikes of cup-shaped, pink and red flowers. It is from the same family as Amaryllis and will enjoy a bright position out of direct sunlight. If you grow this plant indoors it will bloom delightfully with vibrant colour from the Fall into early winter and should be fed and watered more frequently as the holiday season approaches. The foliage is a sight to behold but it is the beauty of the flowers that will make the difference to even the gloomiest of rooms. A dead cert for a better mood.
Another extremely attractive plant is the Kalanchoe, which blooms into a series of tiny but eye-catching flowers even in the deepest of winter. Another reason that this plant is such a winter favourite among the exotic crowd is that it is wonderfully low maintenance and easy to look after. Bright clusters of pink, orange or even yellow flowers are a perfect way to bring colour and warmth to your home.
The Christmas Cactus
Another must-have, even beyond the holiday season to which this plant lends its name. They generally reach full bloom in January, just as your spirits are flagging, and burst into life with rich pink or purple red with elongated drooping fuschia-type blooms that will last deep into the winter months. This is another plant that is easy to keep but it does not like cold draughts.
Protect Your Plants
Having decided to brighten your home with some exotic indoor plants, it is vital to protect them with theft on the rise and the risk of disease always something to consider. Many gardeners now choose to insure their investment, in the same way that garden centre insurance has been commonplace for many years, in order to preserve and protect what can amount to a significant investment. A number of companies offer this service and while it might seem unlikely that someone would actually break into your conservatory to steal your most precious plants, a quick Google search will reveal a slew of local newspaper articles reporting exactly that. You have been warned.
by Guest Blogger