IT'S THE WEEKEND: Grow It - The perfect potted present this Christmas

POTTED plants are the perfect Christmas gifts and can last long after the decorations have been taken down.

Poinsettias are a failsafe and can now be picked up in supermarkets for as little as £2.00, but there are other flowering plants available this time of year too. Like Ponsettia, Gardenia and Orchids are all perfect for the warm conditions of a cosy winter home.

PW Halse & Son’s on Chepstow Road, Langstone have already been busy selling their ornamental planters.

Owner, Anthony Halse, said: “We sell miniature roses, Ferns, orchids - lots of stuff that grows indoors. A good thing for this time of the year would be amaryllis, which are colourful and a good windowsill plant.”

Ornamental planters with a selection of plants go for around £15. These include planted cups and saucers, and even a pair of Santa’s boots planted with Kalanchoe.

Staff at the Secret Garden at Pentywyn Farm, Pontypool, have been enjoying a very busy couple of weeks, selling 1,500 Christmas trees. But potted plants – indoor and outdoor- have been selling well too.

Worker, Chris Davies, said: “It’s been crazy here. We’ve been selling a lot of Cyclamen, but we have cactus and orchids too.”

Moth Orchids (or Phalaenopsis) are the most popular indoor orchid which can be readily bought in decorative pots. They grow well in centrally heated rooms and have long-lasting flowers produced all year round.

Cyclamen, which start at £1.99, will bloom for several months and can flower again in future years.

“They’re a nice bit of colour for this time of year,” Mr Davies said.

“The cyclamen are probably the most popular of the house plants too. The indoor ones are a lot bigger and a lot more established. They are lovely.”

The Royal Horticultural Society suggests buying a plant with plenty of buds showing underneath the foliage. Avoid any plants with drooping or yellow leaves.

Aloe, Cactus and Lucky Bamboo plants are all low-maintenance, but long-lasting gifts. One cactus, the Schlumbergera truncata is actually known as the Christmas cactus, as they flower from late November to late January. These can be moved outside in the summer months.

To get the most from your Christmas flowering-plant, the RHS advise avoiding placing plants in areas of draught or alternately, hot-spots. These large fluctuations in temperature, whether it be on a shelf above a radiator or a breezy windowsill, are not good for the plants. Avoid over-watering, these plants don’t need as many liquids as you over the festive season.

As it is the season of Christmas trees, for those not afraid of a bit of topiary, a Bay Laurel or Buxus Pyramid is the perfect addition to a well-kept doorstep. These can be picked up for £10-£20 depending on size.

For a more Christmassy appeal, add a set of battery operated fairy lights, some small baubles or even just a big velvet bow to the plant or pot so it can become part of the decorations into the new year.

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