Gardening in Winter

By Ellen Sager
The growing season in Canada is short enough, but in Tumbler Ridge, it can sometimes be a challenge to string together 100 frost free days. But just because the snow has arrived, doesn’t mean that you can’t still exercise that green thumb of yours. 
Bring some flowers into the winter and brighten up your life. A Christmas cactus comes in many colours. These will last for generations and will bloom usually around Christmas time and Easter time. They like it cool so keep them by a cool window or down in the basement window and you will find they bloom so beautifully. To propagate them you just cut a piece off and put it in soil and this usually works. They like to be pot bound. 
Christmas is poinsettia time. These come in a variety of colours but red is the most common. Don’t let it get chilled on the way home. Keep it moist because it is from the tropics. Yes, you can keep it throughout the year. The blooms will fall off and you will have a green plant. If you want to be frustrated do try and get it to re-flower the next year. My advice? Throw it out and buy one next year.
A wonderful plant is an amaryllis. Buy one in a box with the pot, soil and instructions. The bulb is to be exposed at the tip and perhaps one or two inches of the bulb exposed. Water it and the leaves and the blooms will come. You have a great choice of colour and they range from about $10 to $15. Just like the poinsettia, just toss it and buy a new one next year. I have tried many times to get it to bloom again, but only been successful once. 
You can force tulips, hyacinths and crocus by putting the bulbs in a pot of soil and keeping them cool, just above freezing, for about two months. Keep them moist. Bring them out into the sunlight and warmth and water as you would any plant and they should bring colour about February. The tulip bulbs should have the flat side planted toward the outside of the pot.
You say you can’t grow orchids. They are actually very easy to grow. Don’t let them get chilled coming from the store. The blooms last a long time then fall off and if you keep watering them they will get new leaves and then new flowers. There are miniature ones as well as the big ones.
You can take a leaf from an African violet and put it in water or in soil and you will have one soon. A beautiful plant is a red prayer plant. It has colourful leaves and at night they go up just as if they were praying.
 There are so many house plants and if you had to leave yours at your last residence you might find some friends that will share. Most plants are easy to propagate. If you have the internet you can search for any plant and find how to care for it. For more information you can call me at 250-242-5283 or e-mail: The garden club will meet again in May. 
Happy gardening.