Now that our windows and doors will be closed for the winter, houseplants in the home are a very important air cleaner. Plants remove air pollutants from our homes and offices.

Move houseplants away from heat vents if you have forced air heating. Houseplants will benefir from added humidity. Humidifiers are great, but you can also use a pebble tray. Take an oversized saucer, add pebbles, and fill halfway with water, then place your plant on the pebbles. Add the water evaporates, add more, but don’t let the plant sit in water. Be alert to cold drafts, especially for ficus, philodendron, begonias and gardenias.

Shorter days mean less growth for houseplants. Water only when your plants require it, but use the same amount each time you water. Use fertilizer at half strength every other time you water until mid March. Try to let your plantsreceive as much light as possible during the darker winter days.

Cyclamen are great plants for brightening your home during the holidays. Cyclamen prefer a cool, dry and bright location. The pink, red, white or maroon flowers will continue for weeks.

Holiday cacti are beautiful with red, pink or white flowers. To ensure flowers for Christmas, keep your plant in a room with bright daylight hours and no light after sunset. They prefer cooler rooms about 55 degrees.  Keep the soil on the dry side in November. Flower buds should set and the plants will be in flower by late December.

Amaryllis is the most majestic of all the holiday plants. To have blooms at Christmas, plant Amaryllis bulbs 7-10 weeks earlier. African Amaryllis will bloom in as little as 4 weeks. Choose a pot about 2″ wider than the bulb, and one that is heavy enough to keep from tipping. Fill the pot part way with potting mix. Set the bulb so that the top 1/3 of the bulb will be above the top of the soil when you fill the pot to 1″ below the top edge of the pot. Give the plant about 4 hours of bright light per day. Plant every 2 weeks for a spectacular color show all winter.

Paperwhites are bulbs that can be planter indoors every two weeks for continuous flowering through the holidays. Paperwhites come in white or yellow and are very fragrant.

To bring fragrance in to your home during the holidays don’t forget herbs. Rosemary, lavender and thyme along with many other herbs will add a pleasing aroma to your home. Use the wonderful scent of fresh greens and pine trees to add to the traditional holiday atmosphere.