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Connecticut Garden Journal: Caring for the more unusual plants you receive as gifts

A closeup of rosemary herb styled on a wooden surface with natural elements of a book, roll of twine, cloth and scissors.
Angie Marie
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Rosemary is a popular potted plant. Keep yours in a sunny window, adding water only as needed.

It happens every year. You invite friends and family over for the holidays and invariably, someone brings you a holiday plant as a gift. Now, you may know what to do with poinsettias, holiday cactus and amaryllis, but what about those unusual plants that are sometimes given? Let me walk you through their care.

Florists and garden centers are stocking more unusual holiday plants. Some are actually plants you can keep and plant outdoors in spring while others are more finicky. Florist azaleas and hydrangeas are forced into bloom this time of year and look stunning on a holiday table. But these varieties often are meant for warmer climates, so they will have to remain as houseplants or composted after the holiday. You can move them outdoors in summer and then back indoors in fall. They may even flower again in late winter.

You'll have better luck with hellebores, lemon cypress and rosemary. We all know hellebores and growers are now forcing some early blooming varieties for the holidays. Once finished flowering, simply grow it as a houseplant until it's warm enough to plant outside. The same is true of lemon cypress. This small evergreen has chartreuse colored foliage with a lemon scent when rubbed. It's hardy to zone 7, so will survive in warmer parts of the state, growing 10 feet tall and a few feet wide. Rosemary is a popular potted plant. Keep yours in a sunny window, adding water only as needed. Place it where air circulates well, but is out of cold drafts. Harvest shoots for cooking. Once warm outdoors, move it to a sunny, location.

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.