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Connecticut Garden Journal: Add color and cheer to holidays with houseplants

Potted Kalanchoe flowers
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Kalanchoe is a houseplant that packs a big flower punch with clusters of bright yellow, orange, white or red flowers.

We're right in the thick decorating and gift wrapping for the holidays. Many love to grow holiday plants to brighten the season. The most common are amaryllis, poinsettia and Christmas cactus. But if you're looking for a different holiday plant to add color and cheer to your holiday table, I have a few ideas.

Kalanchoe is a houseplant that packs a big flower punch with clusters of bright yellow, orange, white or red flowers. Like poinsettias, professional growers force this plant into bloom for the holidays by exposing it to dark conditions a few months ago. We should enjoy their work. Kalanchoe has succulent leaves and usually the plants are small, so they make a great table centerpiece paired with other succulents such as echeveria and sedum. Use a little moss and a few sprigs of dried flowers for an added touch. You can continue to grow kalanchoe after the holidays by placing it in a sunny window and keeping it away from cold drafts. It should continue flowering into summer.

Cyclamen is a common houseplant and outdoor plant depending on the species. This is another plant you'll see adorning garden centers around the holidays. The bright white, red or pink flowers rise above beautiful green and silver leaves making this another good choice for a table. I can almost see a few tiny gnomes hiding under the foliage. As a houseplant it grows best in humid and bright light conditions. Water it infrequently, but thoroughly. Cut back the whole plant if it looks ratty or has spider mites. It will regrow from tiny tubers in the soil.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.