Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Christmas with a Cactus

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Christmas with a Cactus

Article excerpt

It's time to add some festive colour to your home ( and there's no shortage of house plants on offer, from stunning red poinsettias, to sizzling pink Christmas cacti, subtle orchids or perfumed jasmine.

Here are some of the TV gardeners' favourites with a few hints on how to keep them at their best:

Alan Titchmarsh: "My favourite Christmas plant is the poinsettia because they do quite well in warm rooms.

"You've got to buy poinsettias from somewhere where they've been kept warm. If you buy them from an outdoor stall or somewhere where they've been chilled, all their leaves drop off about a week after you bring them in, by which time the market stall has closed down and gone.

"Get them from a garden centre or nursery where they've been kept warm. Two or three poinsettias in a big bowl in the middle of the table look fab and can last right the way through to March."

Rachel de Thame, Gardeners' World presenter: "I'm really fond of the small pot-grown evergreen azaleas which are bought in their thousands over the Christmas period, particularly since the neutral to alkaline soil in my garden doesn't allow me to grow rhododendrons and azaleas outside.

"My favourites are the white-flowered forms of rhododendron simsii - the Indian azalea - which will be smothered in elegant blooms for many weeks.

"To keep them looking their best choose a cool but well-lit spot and make sure the compost doesn't dry out.

"However, azaleas dislike being kept inside for long periods of time, so you should try transferring them to a sheltered position in the garden once the weather warms up, making sure they are re-potted into a container filled with compost.

"I prefer to think of them as short-term indoor pot plants and buy fresh ones to adorn the house each winter."

Chris Beardshaw, presenter of the Winter Flying Gardener on UKTV Style Gardens, Christmas Day at 7pm: "To fill the house at Christmas with the evocative and sensual fragrance of spring is a real joy and no plant or flower better achieves this than the scented narcissus.

"A host of varieties are available from the sweetly scented paper white to the golden tete-a-tete, but my favourite is silver chimes, a beautifully fragrant plant with a real appetite for flowering. …

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