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The Joy of Winter Blooms: GBBD, January 2012

January 15, 2012

Cold January morning (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) After a long delay, winter has come to the northeast United States. In my part of Maine, snow arrived a few days ago, followed by a dramatic drop in temperatures. Today dawned white and frigid. (Yes, that thermometer reads –10F.)

Indoor blooms are a special treat in this kind of weather. In the heady days of summer, individual plants can get lost in the profusion of flowers. But in the depths of winter, each flower commands attention and is a singular joy.

This year, I’ve been making a special effort to acquire winter flowering houseplants that can bloom in sequence. The newly acquired Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) bloomed through the holidays and is just about to lose its last flowers. Fading flowers on Christmas cactus (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Potted cyclamen blooming on the window ledge in January (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Pink and white cyclamen (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) My potted cyclamen bloom for much of the year, but they are especially appreciated now. This year, I combined two separate plants, one with white flowers and one with bright pink flowers, into a single large pot, and I’m delighted with the way they now look blooming together. There are additional potted cyclamen on either side of this one, one in a more lavender shade of pink and one red. Not only are all these plants in bloom; they also have many buds, promising flowers for weeks to come.

The winter bloom that is bringing me the most joy today is one of several amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs that I purchased this fall. The first opened its two flowers on Christmas morning (see A Blooming White Christmas) and bloomed through New Year’s Day. The second, Hippeastrum ‘Green Goddess’ began to bloom the first week in January. Today, the four flowers on its first flower stalk are all fully open, and a second set of flowers are just beginning to bloom. In Brent and Becky’s catalog, this flower seemed to be a yellow-green; but mine has bloomed snow white with a green-yellow throat and green midribs. I find it breathtaking, and I can’t count how many hours of joy it has already given me.

Amaryllis Green Goddess (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)Wherever you garden and whatever your climate conditions at this time of year, I hope you have flowers to bring you joy this January day.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what’s in bloom this month in gardens around the world.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2012 10:07 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful photos. It’s always nice to see what others are up to.

    • January 19, 2012 10:27 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Kallie. I agree; one of the joys of blogging is getting inspiration from seeing what others are up to.

  2. January 15, 2012 10:08 pm

    Your white Amaryllis is a beauty! The Cyclamen look great on the windowsill and I do so like the pink and white together in the same pot.

    • January 19, 2012 10:31 pm

      Bernie, That amaryllis has been pure pleasure. The first set of flowers have been in bloom for more than 2 weeks now, and the second set are now fully opened, so that there’s a cloud of white flowers floating at the top of those long stems. I think the flowers have lasted so long for the same reason that the cyclamen are such easy-care plants for me; I keep my house pretty cool (and that not-very-well-insulated window ledge is even cooler). The cyclamen with the lavender-pink flowers has been blooming faithfully for 20 years now; and the only care it has gotten from me is once-a-week watering, a cool window ledge to grow on, and once-every-ten-years re-potting.

  3. January 15, 2012 10:12 pm

    My indoor blooms are done. I have one amaryllis just starting to bloom at work, but my one here is hardly growing. So i am highlighting bloms from the past as I explore color. Love your indoor blooms Jean. Happy GBBD!

    • January 19, 2012 10:36 pm

      Donna, When I left for Maine in mid-December, I left several amaryllis plants that had not started to put up growth yet in the office, where our department administrative assistant kindly volunteered to look after them. My colleagues keep the office about 10 degrees warmer than I keep my house, so the plants promptly started to send up growth there. This week, the administrative assistant emailed me a photo of one of them in bloom! (Happily, it has another stem which has just started to grow, so I should get to see that set of blooms.) Another one had a bud just starting to open, so I may find that blooming when I get back to the office next week.

  4. January 15, 2012 11:51 pm

    Ooohh, that white amaryllis is gorgeous! i like its pot too! I have only poinsettias right now. One is lemon-yellow and the other is coral. My paperwhites are done and amarillyses are very small yet. You are right Jean, blooming houseplants are a must during winter. I was glad to see our first snow today (thanks for your comment), but now I am thinking what is next, how are the roads, etc.
    Stay warm Jean and thank you for showing your beauties!

    • January 19, 2012 10:38 pm

      Tatyana, I understand that Washington state is getting enough snow now to keep even a Russian happy! Enjoy!

  5. January 16, 2012 6:29 am

    The Green Goddess needs a quiet winter garden to hold court over. Glorious!

    • January 19, 2012 10:40 pm

      Diana, It is regal. The first set of flowers are finally fading, but for the past two days, I’ve had eight big blooms floating at the top of that plant, and they have been glorious. (Packing it in the car to get it back to PA will be a bit tricky, but definitely worth it.)

  6. Lula ( permalink
    January 16, 2012 9:19 am

    At last yoy have snow!, you have beautiful cyclamens and I love them, I just got yesterday a red-orange calceolaria, will post some images soon.

    • January 19, 2012 10:42 pm

      Lula, I will look for your pictures of the calceolaria. While I’ve been enjoying the white flowers, it’s the hot colors that I really crave in cold weather. I do love the cyclamen, and they are such faithful bloomers for me.

  7. January 16, 2012 9:28 am

    Isn’t it nice to have some summer in your house? Your blooms are beautiful!

    • January 19, 2012 10:46 pm

      Karen Lynn, It is very nice to have some summer in the house while the world is white and cold outside. I always feel like winter-blooming plants provide an extravagant amount of pleasure for a relatively small outlay of money.

  8. January 16, 2012 1:31 pm

    What a beautiful amaryllis! And I’m always envious of your cyclamens. Winter has arrived here, too, finally. Ice, then snow, then below zero. It’s wonderful to have blooms indoors. I’ve been wanting to try a flowering maple plant. I could keep it outside in the summer months and bring it indoors for winter.

    • January 19, 2012 10:48 pm

      Kathy, I’m not sure I can take much credit for the cylamen; they just like the conditions I have for them. Amaryllis bulbs are a bit more of a challenge, and we’ll see if I can be diligent about giving them the care they need in order to flower again next year. A flowering maple plant sounds like an exciting choice for winter bloom.

  9. January 16, 2012 4:53 pm

    Winter seems late arriving everywhere this year Jean. I hope that she is not going to dig her heels in now and stay longer than unsual. ‘Green Goddess’ looks spectacular – a real investment for winter colour for years to come.

    • January 19, 2012 10:53 pm

      Anna, I’ve been thrilled with Green Goddess. Let’s hope that I take good enough care of her to make good on my investment. In the past, I’ve limited myself to inexpensive amaryllis bulbs from the supermarket or big box store, and I have a pretty spotty record for taking good care of them. The beauty of these flowers is certainly an incentive to try harder.

  10. January 16, 2012 5:20 pm

    So glad you have snow, now where’s mine? You have to share. No snow in PA. Are you coming back soon? Maybe you could bring some.

    • January 19, 2012 10:56 pm

      Carolyn, You seem to be getting your wish. I was planning to drive back on Saturday — until I checked the National Weather Service website today to discover that snow was forecast on Saturday along my whole route (except for south central PA, which is supposed to get freezing rain instead! Yuck!). Needless to say, I’ve changed my plans and will be driving on Sunday, instead — by which time, you should have your snow.

  11. January 16, 2012 10:06 pm

    thanks for sharing your blooms. My amaryliss did not do well this year.

    • January 19, 2012 10:59 pm

      Greggo, My amaryllis bulbs do not always bloom. This year, I bought four new ones from Brent and Becky’s. These were large, and all of them have put up flower buds thus far. My older, smaller, cheapy ones have either done nothing thus far or only sent up foliage (which I think means that the bulb does not have enough juice to bloom). I’m trying to be better about fertilizing them when they’re in the foliage stage to see if I can do a better job of keeping them blooming from one year to the next.

  12. January 16, 2012 11:31 pm

    I’m enjoying your photos of your personal subtropics indoors. And how can I not comment on the amaryllis? It’s a stunner! Happy GBBD!

    • January 19, 2012 11:02 pm

      James, What a great description — except that the temperature in my house is way too cool to be subtropical. I hope to have more gorgeous amaryllis blooms to share when I get back to work (where colleagues from the American south, from the Dominican Republic, and from Singapore really do keep the indoor temps subtropical) next week.

  13. January 16, 2012 11:52 pm

    There is a lot of joy brought into the home in winter with flowering houseplants. The grey outside fades with the color of indoor blooms.

    • January 19, 2012 11:03 pm

      Donna, It’s so true. Those cyclamen often bloom in the summer, too, but I don’t even notice them then. But in winter, ah, they are such a treat!

  14. January 17, 2012 9:41 am

    That is very cold Jean, almost -28c, I guess it doesn’t get any colder than that, at least the Summer in Maine is warmer than we get here in Aberdeen. Stunning Amaryllis.

    • January 19, 2012 11:08 pm

      Lol, Alistair, it does get colder than that — although not very often. It’s pretty rare to get overnight temperatures here lower than about -28C. One year in the early ’90s, though, it got down to -40, and they had to cancel school for the day because none of the school buses would start. Fortunately, my house is well-insulated and my wood stove keeps me pleasantly warm.

  15. January 17, 2012 7:16 pm

    Gorgeous blooms to warm up the home! Love the color of the cyclamen. Stay warm!

    • January 19, 2012 11:12 pm

      Kevin, that’s been the coldest outdoor temperature here so far this winter — although now that we have snow cover, it’s below zero pretty much every night. Once I get used to the cold (and it helps to have the right clothes), I start to feel that anything above zero is warm enough to be out in. It’s nice, though, to have my woodstove and my flowers to keep me warm indoors.

  16. January 17, 2012 8:28 pm

    Wonderful photos of the light streaming through the window onto the cyclamen. During these short days spent indoors all the colour these plants bring is a thrill. Great idea finding plants that will bring you blooms continuously throughout the winter months.

    • January 19, 2012 11:14 pm

      Marguerite, We’ll see how well I do carrying out this plan of keeping flowers blooming throughout the winter. I think the trick with the amaryllis bulbs is going to be to bring them out of dormancy at different points in the fall. I was looking back at my posts for last year, though, and discovered that I cut forsythia stems for forcing the last week in January (in Pennsylvania, not in Maine) and had them in bloom by mid-February.

  17. January 18, 2012 8:14 pm

    I’m so glad you finally got some snow, Jean. At -10, it should stick around awhile… The indoor bloomers are such a great strategy. What a beautiful throat the amaryllis has! Do you move all of those from PA to ME and back whenever you go???

    • January 19, 2012 11:18 pm

      Stacy, The twice a year when I come to Maine for long enough periods (a month or more) to drive up, I do indeed bring houseplants with me. (Not all my houseplants, just the ones that are blooming or that are delicate.) Honestly, my car tends to be half filled with plants; it’s quite a sight. In the winter, it’s also quite a project; I put the plants in flat nursery boxes and then put the whole thing inside a big dry-cleaner’s plastic bag. These then go in the car the very last thing before I get on the road. Wrapping that blooming amaryllis is going to present a special challenge this time — but it’s worth it to have that beauty in my life over the holidays.

  18. January 19, 2012 9:03 pm

    You are lucky to have so many indoor blooms. They fill that void of blooms that is so lacking in winter. My African violets are blooming now and a late blooming Christmas cactus has decided to bloom now. Weeks before the holidays, I usually plant some paper whites and hyacinths. This year, I neglected to plant some for the winter months, so I will just linger here and enjoy your plethora of blooms.

    • January 19, 2012 11:22 pm

      Michelle, I’ve never had any luck with African violets. I have one now, which came in a dish garden from colleagues when my mother died a year and a half ago. It was blooming when I got it, and I’ve re-potted it in its own pot, but I haven’t seen any signs of blooms since. (On the other hand, it hasn’t died or lost leaves, so I’ll count that as a victory.) I often intend to force paper whites or hyacinths, but almost never get around to it. However, I do often buy potted hyacinths already in bloom and then add them to the garden afterwards.

  19. January 20, 2012 1:28 pm

    That ‘Green Goddess’ really is gorgeous. I really need to get back to having some house plants. I think I spend so much time outside, that I forget to bring the outside in! I’d love to see something in bloom at the moment. January has me very anxious for Spring!

  20. January 27, 2012 12:08 am

    May I covet your Christmas Cactus??! They are so gorgeous, intriguing and the blooms are drenched in color.

    A close friend of mine has had tremendous luck with Christmas Cactus. I get to see the progress every Christmas when she has “The Girls” over at the Holidays. It loves it’s place on the kitchen table (bar height) along 5 floor to ceiling windows. [It’s a great kitchen too…]

    • January 27, 2012 10:24 pm

      Clare, The Green Goddess has been a treat; it is still blooming (now on the second flower stalk) and I managed to get it packed in the car on a -10F morning and back to Gettysburg without damaging the flowers. If the second set of flowers last a few more days, this plant will have bloomed for a full month!

      Shyrlene, you may covet my Christmas Cactus, but you might be better off coveting your friend’s. I don’t have a good record with these, so we’ll have to wait and see how this one is doing next year.

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