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Garden Checklist: Poinsettias, Christmas cactus add color indoors

Sacramento Bee file

Too cold to garden outdoors? Bring winter blooms inside with potted poinsettias, amaryllis and cyclamen.

Popular during the holiday season, poinsettias will last longer if placed in a warm sunny location away from heating vents or drafts. Poke holes in the foil wrapper for drainage and place the potted plant on a plate or saucer. Water when the soil feels dry.

Consider Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) as a bright and colorful water-wise holiday houseplant. Native to coastal Brazilian jungles, this cactus with neon-hued flowers can live for decades with little care. Christmas cactus prefer cramped roots and well-drained but loamy soil; keep the soil barely moist for best results. These cacti like indirect filtered light, but they also need some night. Darkness prompts blooms; these cacti require about 16 hours of total darkness a night for eight consecutive days to trigger their flower cycle. To trick your cacti into flower, place it nightly in a dark room or cover it with a light-proof cover.

▪ Is a frosty night in the forecast? Mulch, water and cover to protect tender plants. Succulent plants (such as Christmas cacti) are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Be sure to remove coverings during the day.

▪ Outdoors, add color to the garden with calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

▪  Time to get the tulips out of the fridge and into the ground. Also plant such spring-flowering bulbs as daffodils, callas and Dutch iris.

▪  Bare-root season has begun. Besides fruit trees and rose bushes, plant dormant cane berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

▪ Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

▪ After rain, dump standing water that may have collected in saucers under potted plants.

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