Christmas gift or poisoned chalice?

PimlicoDan
Published on November 23rd 2018
5
It’s lovely to receive a growing gift, but some plants cause nothing but heartache. These three commonly-received gift plants should come with their own user manual. Here are some general dos and don’ts to help.

Azalea indica - Japanese or Indoor Azalea

Do:

  • Keep as cool as you can, away from central heating, ideally no higher than 60°F.
  • Water and mist with soft water (avoiding the flowers). Keep damp at all times.
  • A bright, well-ventilated spot will keep this azalea happy.

Don’t:

  • Place near a radiator. Central heating is Kryptonite to azaleas. Be warned.
  • Water with hard water. The plant will turn yellow.
  • Ever allow indoor azaleas to dry out, their buds will shrivel and die.

Gardenia - Cape jasmine

Do:

  • Give plants a bright spot with winter sun and steady warm temperatures (ideally 65°F).
  • Water with soft water and feed with ericaceous fertiliser during the growing season.
  • Keep humidity high by sitting over a tray of pebbles or misting with soft water (avoid the flowers).

Don’t:

  • Put near a source of central heating or a draughty spot. Strong temperature fluctuations of more than 10-15F must be avoided.
  • Use hard tap water or allow to dry out. Buds will drop, leaves will yellow and brown edges and are a sign of underwatering.
  • Get caught off guard by red spider mite, scale insect and the dreaded mealy bug.

Stephanotis - Madagascar jasmine

Do:

  • Keep warm, but not hot. Stable temperatures around 55-60F are best overwinter.
  • Give plenty of light with direct winter sun.
  • Be consistent with watering, light and temperatures. Any fluctuation will cause bud drop.

Don’t:

  • Mistake a wilting pant for being too dry, overwatering also causes the same symptoms.
  • Let mealy bug get its hands on your plants, they’re particularly fond of Stephanotis and even attack the roots.
  • Place in a stuffy, centrally-heated room. Any buds will drop and red spider mite will thrive.
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