Winter bloomers

Winter bloomers, houseplants of the month

Winter bloomers offer scent and  are ideal plants for bringing the spring indoors when everything outside is still grim and bare. Colourful primula (Primula obconia), cheerful ragwort (Senecio) and white jasmine (Jasminium) provide scent and colour in the home in many shapes and sizes. They’re easy to look after, and have been specially grown to be able to go outdoors as well when the temperature rises above 10°C. 

Origin

Wild primulas often occur in the mountains on the northern hemisphere. There are some 15 varieties in the European Alps. Ragwort has travelled across from Australia and New Zealand, and occurs widely on the Canary Islands. Jasmine is a (sub-)tropical climber from the temperate regions of Asia which can also do well indoors if it’s given enough moisture and warmth.

Feb2018

What to look for when buying winter bloomers

  • All winter bloomers are keen drinkers, so check the soil is sufficiently damp when buying. Drooping leaves are a sign that the plant has been kept too dry.  
  • Check the number of buds and the ripeness of the buds on all winter bloomers. Ideally they should already be showing some colour.
  • Primula and ragwort should have attractive, smooth leaves, whilst jasmine should have dense tendrils with lots of buds. 
  • Look out for leaf-miner flies and aphids, and in the case of primula and ragwort also check for Botrytis, a fungus which can affect foliage and flowers when they’re too damp. 

Range

Primula offers cheerful flowers in pink, white, purple, lilac and blue which brighten your home when it’s still bleak outside. There are increasing numbers of bicoloured varieties.
Ragwort  has green leaves which are a downy grey on the underside. The combination of green with ash grey sets off the fabulous flowers in white, blue, lilac, purple, pink, red and bicoloured beautifully.  
Jasmine is a bush with dark green leaves and radiant star-shaped white flowers with a lovely fragrance. The long tendrils like to wrap, climb and meander. 

Feb2018 2 

Care tips

  • Winter bloomers like a light and cool spot; avoid direct sunlight. 
  • The soil should be slightly damp - avoid overwatering if possible. 
  • Plant food once a fortnight helps winter bloomers to maintain enough strength for growing and flowering.
  • Wilted flowers can simply be picked off.

Sales and display tips

The very different shapes mean that winter bloomers can be combined attractively in bowls. On their own they look best in broad rows by colour on tables. Jasmine is very suitable for hanging arrangements. The light colours combine beautifully with whitewashed wood and pastels. The mood should be warm and calm, in order to tempt consumers most strongly to take these fabulous houseplants home at this time of year.  

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