Here’s how to properly gift a flowering plant – Help US

I would like to buy some flowering plants in the coming weeks for my home as well as for gifts to bring to friends. How can I be successful with the cold weather?

— David Kim, River Forest

Flowering plants such as azalea, kalanchoe, cyclamen and amaryllis are good gifts to give during the winter. Select plants that are free from spots on the leaves, bruising, wilting, or browned leaf margins. Look for plants with flowers that are partially open or with lots of buds so you will get a longer period of color. Plants with flowers that are completely open will not last as long in your home. Sometimes you may find them on sale, so judge accordingly on the value you receive for the price and the reduced flowering time.

The flowers will also last longer in a cool room with temperatures in the low 60s and kept away from hot and cold drafts. Generally, keep these plants in bright light for best performance and keep them evenly moist but not ever waterlogged. The pots should have a hole in the bottom for drainage. There is no need to fertilize. Most people consider these plants to be temporary and will discard them once the flowering is complete.

Flowering plants such as azalea, kalanchoe, cyclamen, and amaryllis are good gifts to give during the winter.

It is very important to protect the plants from cold winter temperatures when bringing them home. Most garden centers wrap plants to protect them from cold temperatures. If they don’t, be sure to ask them to wrap the plants. Wrapping the plants also protects them against breakage. Be sure the plants are placed in a stable location in your car while transporting them home. If you plan to transport multiple plants, use a box to carry them. When bringing plants home in a car, the car should be warm before putting plants in it, especially if outdoor temperatures are below freezing.

Plants should never be transported in a cold trunk or be allowed to sit in a cold car for any length of time, so make your plant purchases the last stop of the day. The plants should remain wrapped for no more than 24 hours. Open the top to allow the plants to get air if they are going to be wrapped for an extended period. To unwrap a plant, it is best to set the plant on a stable surface and carefully tear or cut the wrapper from the bottom up. Do not attempt to pull the wrapper off the plant, as you risk breaking stems, flowers, and leaves. Foil pot wrappers are attractive, but should be removed whenever the plant is watered so that the plant does not sit in water. It’s a good idea to put a saucer under the plant if it is on a wood surface to avoid water damage. Terra cotta saucers under pots can exude moisture and discolor wood surfaces under them.

For more plant advice, contact the Plant Information Service at the Chicago Botanic Garden at Tim Johnson is senior director of horticulture at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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