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Beyond the poinsettia: a dozen other Christmas plants.

Beyond the poinsettia: a dozen other Christmas plants Red, green, and white, the colors of Christmas, are vividly displayed in the foliage and flowers of many plants. Poinsettias are the traditional favorite and usually the first to come to mind. But this season, as flowring plants grow in popularity and commercial growers force more species into bloom in greenhouses, you'll have more choices than ever before.

Here are a dozen plants to enliven your home or give as gifts. Some are new; others are old favorites. Look for them at nurseries, garden centers, and florists.

Our listings include comments on how long each plant normally looks good indoors when it's grown in a cool, well-lit location and watered and fertilized regularly. Except for anthurium and chenille plant, plants with flowers just opening will bloom longest. Plants marked with an asterisk can be grown outdoors in mild-winter climates.

For specific adaptation and growing requirements, check the Sunset Western Garden Book.

Amaryllis. Huge trumpet-like flowers top 1-to 2-foot stalks. Bloom lasts three to four weeks. For a centerpiece, try a red variety surrounded by white caladiums, mums, ferns, or holly branches.

Anthurium. The classic Hawaiian plant with bright red flowers blooms intermittently all year. Pigtail anthurium (A. scherzeranum) from Costa Rica might be a little harder to find but adapts better to most indoor conditions.

*Azaleas. Red and white varieties, usually Belgian Indicas, makes a stunning display. Bloom usually lasts two to three weeks.

*Caladium. Brightly colored foliage plants grow from tuberous roots. Newer varieties easily rival poinsettias for crisp Christmas color. Look for ones with snow white leaves and narrow green veins, or red leaves edged with green. Gradually withhold water when heaves start to die down; indoors they last at least three to four weeks.

Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida). This interesting newcomer has long flower tassels (see photograph above) in shades of crimson red to salmon red. Bloom lasts four to six weeks. Often sold in hanging baskets.

*Christmas cactus. The red-flowering form of this cascading succulent has long been a Christmas favorite. You should also see some new white-flowering ones. Blooms for two to four weeks.

*Chrysanthemum. White mums are a florist's standby but are still effective when combined with reds like cyclamen. Flowers for two to four weeks.

*Cyclamen. Hard to match as a tabletop decoration, it has delicate, shooting star-like flowers in some of the cleanest whites and most vibrant reds available. Also look for plants with silvery variegated leaves or some of the newer dwarf varieties. Blooms for four to six weeks or longer.

*Freesia. White-flowered varieties are the most fragrant of all freesias, and worth growing just for their wonderful scent. Blooms last two to three weeks.

*Kalanchoe. Large clusters of small, bright red flowers stand above fleshy foliage. Lasts at least six weeks.

*Miniature roses. Blooming plants are now available almost year-round. However, unless they receive very bright light, they won't blossom as long indoors as some other plants on our list. Bloom usually lasts two to three weeks.

*Narcissus. Tall stalks of fragrant white flowers last one to two weeks. Check the fragrance before buying; some varieties are offensive to some people.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1989
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