How To Care For Your Holiday Plants

Cyclamen

What better way to brighten up your spirits during cold dreary days than with winter blooms? Bright red, pink and white flowers against marbled green leaves make cyclamen perfect for holiday decorating.

Cyclamen are easy to care for, indoor house plants. They thrive best in 60-65 degree temperatures and indirect sunlight. When watering, take care to avoid the tubular stems. Do not over water. Placing the pot on a tray of gravel and water works well.

If you keep your plant cool and out of direct sunlight, it can bloom into May. When the blooms have fallen off and the leaves begin to yellow place your plant in cool dry place for the summer. You won't have to water it again until next fall. They are accustomed to Mediterranean climate where they will have a dry, uneventful summer.

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Christmas Cactus

A Christmas Cactus is easy to care for and makes a nice gift. Because they grow best in indirect sunlight and 65 degree temperatures they are ideal indoor house plants. They can be taken outside but avoid direct sunlight. It can burn their leaves. Christmas cactus are a tropical- not desert variety cactus. They are not drought tolerant, but require little watering. It is best to water them when the top inch of soil starts to feel dry.

Christmas Cactus grow bright winter flowers. Cool temperatures should signal that it is time to bloom. If your cactus is not blooming by November, try placing it in a dark closet at night (8pm to 8am). They do not like extreme temperature changes. Heat and drafts can cause buds to fall off before they are bloomed.

If you wish to multiply your plant, stem cutting should be done when the plant is dormant in the spring or early summer.

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Pachira: The Money Tree

What better way to wish someone a happy new year than to give them a money tree? The pachira, or money tree, is a often given as a wish of good luck or prosperity.

What's with the name? According to legend, long ago there lived a poor Taiwanese farmer. He prayed for money to feed and support his family. One day while out in the field he came across a unique looking tree and thought it must be an answer to his prayer.

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He took the tree home and found it easy to care for. He sold its nuts and planted its seeds. Soon he had many trees, and many nuts to sell and was able to support his family. Its a very nice story, but a money tree would never have been found in a Taiwanese field. The money tree is native to South American swamps. Another legend claims that a Chinese sculptor came across a great tree.

He wanted to use its roots in his work, but had no tools with him. He placed fake money in the tree so that if anyone came across the tree they would think it was sacred and not cut it down. He left to get his tools, but upon returning finds that his plan worked too well. People put real money in the tree, the tree became sacred and was guarded by a spirit. The spirit told the sculptor that he would be cursed if he cut the tree down, but would sell him some roots in exchange for a silk scarf found in a graveyard.

In some legends the tree is a locus, but this didn't keep money trees from being popular gift on the Chinese New Year and used in feng shui. The number five in feng shui is sacred because it represents all elements: earth, wind, fire, water and metal. The pachira tree is often made up of five smaller trees braided together. The leaves are grouped in fives, representing the five fingers of a hand- grabbing the money. The five braided branches make a cage to trap the money that the hands grab. When placed in the South East side of your home or office, it is said to bring wealth.

Pachira trees make great houseplants. They can grow as tall as 15 feet, but will not grow larger than the pot they are planted in. They require minimal sunlight and needed watered about once a week. They produce small brown nuts that taste similar to peanuts.

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