by Frank Niccoli
Sometimes the cold of a winter’s day can be made a bit cheerful with a plant that blooms inside. One of my favorites is the African Violet. It is one of the easiest plants to care for. They love a north-facing window or any light situation that has reflected light with no direct sun. Water them with warm water, not hot or cold. If the leaves are blotchy this trick will clear it up. You can even wash the leaves if you use warm water. Fertilize them about once a month with a bit of African violet food. Do not overfeed them. This causes the surface of the soil to turn a whitish color. If this happens water them every day for about three or four days, and this will flush the fertilizer salts from the soil. Don’t let this plant sit in a saucer of water because this will rot the roots.
Another good indoor plant are Calla Lilies. You can buy the bulbs for a couple of bucks. Feed them about once a month and since this plant loves the moisture you can leave water in its saucer. From a bulb to bloom is about three months.
Try some Amaryllis for some dramatic color. Amaryllis can be purchased as a bulb and planted in some ordinary soil. They will bloom close to Christmas if planted the first week of November. Plant them in a pot two inches larger than the diameter of the bulb. Put some rock in the bottom of the pot and add about a inch of potting soil. Hold the bulb suspended over the pot so that two thirds of the bulb remains outside. Fill in with soil. Water and then hold off on the water until they show growth and then water sparsely. A great performer.