Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flowers For Christmas Cheer

Plant Buddy's Christmas Holiday Flowers and Plants . . .Some plants such as the Holly and Mistletoe (see last week's post) come with ancient traditions and stories that have travelled through time. . . The Ivy (Hedera helix) was traditionally thought of as a woman's plant . . .the Holly was held to be a man's plant. . .The Greeks associated ivy with happiness and honor. . . In ancient times ivy and holly were twined around poles to decorate winter festivals in Europe. . .Herbs such as Laurel (Bay leaves) were used as a charm to ward off thunderstorms, witches, and devils. . . Then in later times on Holy Saturday the same plant was used to spread on church floors as a symbol of purification. . .Scroll back a couple of week for another Christmas favourite, Amaryllis. . .a proud, haughty, splendid plant that has a strong association with this time of year. . .Today, I'm featuring some more traditional holiday plants. . .Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, and Cyclamen. . . These three plants have something in common. . .they are amongst the newer line of traditional holiday plants of the New World. . .they have no legends attached. . .But interesting to know more about. . .Since we all want to try out these flowering plants in our homes, it's good to know about their natural habitat.

Just a note to let you know. . .all holiday plants are available on line. . . Use the Search Box here on the blog. . . Enter the Name of the Plant and your City. . . for a list of places in your area with best prices and freshest plant material for gift giving and decorating.

Poinsettia was unknown to Christians before Spanish missionaries came to Mexico. . . Native to the New World, this beautiful plant was originally a wild shrub growing in the jungles of Mexico. . . It has become a beloved traditional Christmas houseplant all over the world. . . In Sweden it's called "Christmas Star Plant". . . The real flower is the tiny yellow buds in the center of the red bracts or leaves. . . How Poinsettia got its name: While serving as a United States ambassador to the new republic of Mexico, Joel Poinsett discovered the plant, which received his name. He brought specimens back to the United States. . . Because poinsettia could be made to flower in winter, it soon became a popular Christmas decoration and a holiday gift plant. . .Warning to Parents and Pet Owners: Care should be taken when handling it. The milky sap that oozes from broken stems and leaves can irritate the eyes. Keep all plants away from children and pets.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera). . . has no Christmas story. It is not even a cactus!. . . This plant hates sand and doesn't grow anywhere near a desert. . . Actually, it's an epiphytic (air) plant. . . Similar to the Mistletoe . . the Christmas Cactus lives high up in tree tops. . . It's home is the Brazilian jungle. . . In nature, it clings to the bark of host trees in little pockets of leaf mold where it thrives in heat and humidity, frequent showers and dappled sunlight. . . Plant growers discovered that Schlumbergera sets its buds and begins to bloom in winter. . . It's the change to shorter days and cooler temperatures that signals many tropical plants to start their bloom cycle. . . So, to make a long story short, they called it Christmas Cactus. The official botanical name is in brackets above. And for my next flowering plant. . .

Cyclamen . . .Here's another attractive plant you will see everywhere during the Christmas and holiday season. . .Not an official Christmas plant like the Mistletoe and Holly that come with ancient stories and legends. . . the cyclamen just looks nice and easily flowers in winter. The dark and light green pattern on it's rounded leaves . . plus the cheery red flowers. . .also comes in snowy white. . . make this handsome plant hard to resist. To keep Cyclamen looking fresh and perky, place the plant away from heat and bright sunlight. . .A perfect gift plant for someone living in an apartment with a north-east exposure.
Hope you enjoyed the Flowering Plants of Christmas series. Next week I'll continue with . . .
The Trees of Christmas.

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