Ephemeral sparks of color to warm up the winter air

flowering plants in winter on a windowsill: hyacinth and poinsettia

Short bursts of colors to brighten up the winter season.

Poinsettia and hyacinth: two plants that share the ability of gifting us with an explosion of colors at the heart of winter.

Amazing natural anti-depressants! They’re very easy to care for, and will last for even longer than the end-of-year festivities… Marvelous decors for your guests and for your own pleasure, too!

Poinsettia, coming from the sun

Poinsettia flower with white and red petalsNative to Mexico, poinsettia bursts into a multitude of colored bracts, which earns it the name of Christmas star. No need to wait for the end-of-year holidays to splurge and gift ourselves with one or more, selecting several colors: red, green, white, pink, salmon and purple. The leaves of poinsettia are what take on such bright colors, since the flowers are the tiny yellow balls that appear in the center.

Poinsettia is a fragile plant, it is vulnerable to the cold and to drafts. Ask that it be wrapped well for transporting it outdoors, and don’t select a plant that is set near the store’s entrance door, where the air is drafty.

To keep your poinsettia alive for months, take care to water without overdoing it, only when the soil has dried off, by immersing the pot in a container of lukewarm water – cold water would tend to make the leaves fall off – and then drip-dry it off so that still water doesn’t collect in the saucer. Set it up in a warm room, 60 to 72°F (15 to 22°C), with abundant indirect light.

Hyacinths, a foretaste of spring

Three blooming hyacinthsWith its superb pink, blue, white, violet, yellow or orange blooms and its fresh fragrance, hyacinth is a concentrate of spring in the middle of winter, just add water! This bulb from Holland isn’t demanding: a little bit of water every couple days just to keep the soil moist is enough, and light or darkness don’t really matter.

Hyacinth that blooms in December comes from forced bulbs, you’ll find them in pots at the florists’ shops, but you can also prepare them yourself with a tall vase with a shoulder. This is a fast-growing experiment that kids love.

Fill the vase up to about ½ inch (one centimeter) from the top, and place your bulb on it, tip pointing up. Place it in a cool spot with no light until leaves appear: your hyacinth is ready to see the light of day! Remember to replenish the water level as it grows.

Laure Hamann

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Flowery windowsill by under Unsplash license
Variegated poinsettia by Stefan Schweihofer under Pixabay license
Blue, pink, violet by Flower Council Holland / the joy of plants