feature story

care guide to the
top blooming plants

Here’s what you need to help your customers.

   Customers prize blooming plants for the great values they are as well as for being the always-perfect choices for both gift-giving and self-purchase; however, customers will feel more comfortable making their selections if they have an expert to guide them.

    We’ve gathered care information and reblooming tips for the top-selling blooming plants. Use this information to help guide your customers to the right plants.

african violet
saintpaulia
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the potting medium moderately moist. Water when the surface is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water. High humidity is essential; surround the pots with damp peat moss, or place them on pebble trays. Mist lightly with a fine spray only when the plants are not in flower.
Temperature: Warm temperatures—70 F to 75 F during the day and 65 F to 70 F at night.
Availability: Year-round.
Colors: White, pink, blue, purple, yellow and bicolors.
Bloom life: Continuous flowering in proper conditions.
Reblooming: African violets are known for their ability to flower at almost any time of the year. If the plants’ basic needs are met—steady warmth, careful watering, good light, high air humidity and regular feeding—consumers should have several blooming periods a year. Dead flowers and damaged leaves should be removed immediately.
Other: Water on leaves and flowers can cause spots, and cold water can cause necrosis (dead spots), so water carefully with tepid water. Water either right under the rosette of leaves at the edge of the pot with a narrow-neck can, or pour water into a saucer underneath the pot, and allow the roots and growing medium to absorb what they need.

azalea
rhododendron
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the potting med-ium evenly moist at all times; don’t ever allow it to dry out. Water when the surface is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water. Mist the leaves daily during flowering season.
Temperature: Low temperatures—60 F to 65 F during the day and 55 F to 60 F at night are preferred and will dramatically increase these plants’ longevity.
Availability: Year-round; the plants are most popular January through April.
Colors: Red, pink, crimson, magenta, salmon, purple and white.
Bloom life: Three to eight weeks.
Reblooming: After the flowering period ends, move the plants to a cool room, and continue watering. When the danger of frost has passed, move the pots to a shady spot in the garden, and feed, water and mist them until flower buds appear, usually in early autumn. Then bring them into a cool room until the buds open.

chrysanthemum
dendranthema
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the soil moderately moist; never allow soil to dry out. Water when the surface is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water.
Temperature: Moderate temperatures—65 F to 75 F during the day and 60 F to 70 F at night. Keeping plants on the cool side (60 F to 65 F) will promote longevity.
Availability: Year-round.
Colors: Many, including purple, lavender, red, pink, orange, bronze, yellow, butterscotch, white and bicolors.
Bloom life: Three weeks or longer.
Reblooming: Potted chrysanthemums are difficult to rebloom in the home, and doing so is not recommended. Instead, advise customers to cut their plants back and plant them outdoors, in areas shaded from midday sun, where they will revert to their natural growth habit no later than summer or fall of the following year.
Photo courtesy of Yoder Brothers, Inc.

easter lily, trumpet lily
lilium
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the soil moderately moist. Water when the surface is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water.
Temperature: Moderate temperatures—65 F to 70 F during the day and 50 F to 60 F at night.
Availability: March and April.
Color: White.
Bloom life: One to two weeks.
Reblooming: As the leaves turn yellow and stems die, reduce watering. Repot the bulbs in the fall. Keep them cold, dark and moist. When shoots appear, move the plants to a brightly lit spot. The flowers will be smaller than those on plants raised from newly purchased bulbs.
Other: To prevent pollen staining, remove anthers on open flowers, and instruct consumers to do the same.

miniature rose
rosa
Light: Bright, direct light; a sunny window sill is ideal.
Water: Water liberally, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Mist the leaves frequently, and stand the pots on pebble trays if the room is warm.
Temperature: Moderate temperatures indoors—50 F to 70 F during flowering.
Availability: Year-round.
Colors: Many, including reds, pinks, peach/salmon/apricot, oranges, yellows, white/cream/ivory and bicolors.
Bloom life: Two to three weeks.
Reblooming: Repot the plants in the fall, and transfer them outdoors, burying them in soil, if possible. In midwinter, bring the plants indoors, and remove the top half of the stems. Put the plants in an unheated room for a week or two before moving them to a heated room.
Other: Remove blooms as they die, or they will turn into rose hips, which use energy the plants need to reflower.
Photo courtesy of Nurserymen’s Exchange, Inc.

orchid
cymbidium, dendrobium,
phalaenopsis
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the growing medium moderately and evenly moist. Reduce watering in the winter. Mist the leaves occasionally or place pots on pebble trays because orchids require constantly humid air.
Temperature: Daytime temperatures of about 70 F in summer and 60 F in winter; nighttime temperatures should be about 10 degrees lower. Cold drafts, however, can be fatal, and orchids will not tolerate hot, stuffy conditions, so provide good air movement.
Availability: Year-round.
Colors: Many, including white, cream, magenta, purple, lavender, pink, orange, green, yellow, red, brown and bicolors.
Bloom life: Weeks to months.
Reblooming: With proper care, most orchid plants will rebloom. Specific care instructions for individual genera are available from suppliers and are easily accessible online at any number of Web sites.
Photo courtesy of Rocket Farms

poinsettia
euphorbia
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the soil moderately and evenly moist; these plants are sensitive to both drying out and overwatering. Water when the surface of the potting medium is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water. Mist the leaves frequently.
Temperature: Moderate temperatures—65 F to 70 F during the day and 60 F to 65 F at night. Poinsettias are sensitive to prolonged exposure to temperatures lower than 50 F.
Availability: November and December.
Colors: Red, pink, peach, yellow, purple, white, cream and variegated.
Bloom life: Weeks to months.
Reblooming: Cut the stems to 4-inch stumps, and put the pots in a mild, shady spot, keeping the potting medium nearly dry. In early May, water and repot the plants, removing some of the old potting medium. Water and feed regularly. New growth should appear; remove some of it, leaving four or five strong, new stems. For eight weeks, starting at the end of September, keep the plants in total darkness for 14 hours a day, followed by 10 hours of bright light. The plants should rebloom for Christmas.
Other: Feed every two weeks with a liquid, all-purpose fertilizer when the plant is growing.
Photo courtesy of Paul Ecke Ranch

spring flowering bulbs
hyacinth (hyacinthus), tulip (tulipa),
daffodil, jonquil, paper-white
(narcissus)
Light: Bright, indirect light (no direct sun).
Water: Keep the soil moderately moist. Water when the surface is dry to the touch, and don’t allow plants to stand in water.
Temperature: Cool environments—no higher than 65 F during the day and 55 F to 60 F at night.
Availability:
Hyacinths: December through April.
Tulips: September through May.
Narcissi: November through April.
Colors:
Hyacinths: white, pink, red, purple, blue, blue-violet, yellow, salmon
Tulips: all colors except blue and green although some bicolor varieties feature green
Narcissi: yellow, white, cream, orange, salmon and bicolors
Bloom life:
Hyacinths: seven to 14 days.
Tulips: seven to 14 days.
Narcissi: five to 14 days.
Reblooming: Bulbs forced out of season can’t be reflowered indoors. After the flowers fade, remove them, but continue watering the plants until the foliage matures. Plant the bulbs outside in the late spring or fall, before the first frost. They will flower in one or two years during the spring blooming season.
Other: Hyacinths’ top-heavy flower heads often cause stems to topple; staking or tying is typically required.
 
Tulips’ flowers develop rapidly once color is present, so encourage customers to buy them prior to flower opening (in the green bud stage) for maximum life.
  Daffodils/jonquils should be purchased and marketed in the “pencil” stage, which is the straight-up position of the flower relative to the stem.
Photo courtesy of Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Sources: Flowering & Foliage Plants Book 2, by The John Henry Company; The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon;
The Houseplant Encyclopedia, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
 


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