If you're one of those who doesn't care how many snappy new varieties of poinsettias there are these days, or what sparkles and watercolors they may be sporting - because you're just tired of them - don't despair because there are some pretty cool alternatives.
That's according to head grower Oliver Storm, whose personal favorite is the increasingly popular white hydrangea you see below. It's just like the mophead hydrangeas we grow in our gardens, but it's raised to bloom NOW, out of season. Each has 3 to 5 blooms, and after they're past their prime you can use them in dried arrangements - just like we do with the summer-bloomers. Hey, I've been known to actually spray-paint those dried hydrangea blooms in my dried arrangements, and why not?
In the collage of gloxinias below, see the big cluster of blooms on these guys? That shows their good breeding. They can be grown in bright light or partial shade. They'll bloom indoors for 5-6 weeks or longer. Oliver particularly loves the double flowering types.
Even in the greenhouse the Christmas cactus look seriously cool to me. Why have I never grown one of these? Especially in a really pretty pot.
Christmas Cactus are daylight sensitive and only bloom naturally in November and December. They like partial shade but can be grown in sunny conditions in the winter and will even live for many years, blooming every year, if they're treated properly in the fall. What's proper treatment, you ask? Giving them 8 weeks of short days (less day light than 12 hours). That means NOT putting them in a room where you turn the lights on in the evening. Also, keep them evenly watered.
Finally, Cyclamen have been loved by indoor gardeners for ages, for any time of the year. But with some silver foil around the pot they can look plenty Christmassy. Cyclamen are good for cooler rooms and like temperatures around 60 degree. They will continue to flower all winter, requiring partial shade and moderate watering to perform their best.