The holidays are right around the corner, making this a great time to consider plants for gifting. The classic holiday plant selection is most likely the poinsettia. However, this article will focus on two other great holiday plants; amaryllis and gardenia.
Amaryllis is a bulb that produces large, trumpet-shaped flowers. It is also a good container plant and can reach a height and spread of one-three ft. It needs well-drained soil, has medium drought and low to no salt tolerance. It makes a great impact when planted in terraces, gate entrances or as a border plant in groups of 10 or more.
Plant it between September and January in partial shade or in the sun. Propagation is from seeds, cuttings and smaller bulbs attached to the ‘mother’ bulbs. You can leave bulbs in the ground for years or dig them up and replant them during September and October. Blooms last several weeks.
Gardenias are fragrant white flowers and has glossy dark green leaves. This plant can reach a height and spread of four to eight ft. Full sun to partial shade provides the best flowering. Well-drained soil that has been amended with organic matter is preferred.
This large shrub has medium drought and low to no salt tolerance. It should be fertilized two to three times each year. After flowering has been completed, it can be pruned. However, if you prune after October 1, blooming the following year will be decreased. Propagation is by grafting or cuttings.
Gardenia can be used as a hedge or groundcover, and it is beautiful in mass plantings or as a specimen plant.
For the gardeners in your life, they may well like amaryllises, gardenias or other gardening-related gifts that are not plants. These items may include a garden cart, saw or pruners, gloves, plant books, seeds, bulbs, pots, mulch, potting soil, perlite, plant hangers, composting bin, composting worms, microirrigation kit, garden sculpture, garbage cans (I only have eight and could use more!) and dozens of other items gardeners want or need.
For more information about these holiday gems, please see the University of Florida publications Gardenias at a Glance by Sydney Park Brown and Joan Bradshaw at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP33800.pdf and Hippeastrum x hybridum Amaryllis by Edward F. Gilman at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp255, from which information contained in this article was adapted.
For assistance, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 744-5519 or visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/.