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Geraniums a good choice for the holidays

Florida Today logo Florida Today 12/12/2018 Maria Sonnenberg

Move over poinsettias, you have competition.

Sure, you will always have a special place in our hearts during the holidays, but you know what, you are kind of a pain, as plants go. You don’t like too much or too little water. Drainage has to be good or your roots will rot.

If you make it past the holidays, you tend to turn leggy, and if gardeners want blooms from you for a second year, they will have to force you to bloom, since your normal blooming time is after Christmas. In fact, most gardeners won’t want to deal with you after the holidays and many of you will end up in the trash. As bang for the buck goes, there are other options.

a close up of a flower garden: An accent pot of geraniums by the pool brings some color to the pool deck on the Indian River. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. An accent pot of geraniums by the pool brings some color to the pool deck on the Indian River. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May.

“My customers prefer to get a little longer out of the plantings,” said Sandy Ball, owner of Eden Gardener in Rockledge.

At the home of Alan and Sharon Smith, Ball was busy with the 500 geraniums the Indialantic couple asked her to plant for the holidays. The sea of coral-colored plants evokes the spirit of the holidays, but with a Florida twist.

“It makes for a very tropical Christmas, and a little different than the old red and white,” Ball said.

Geraniums prefer cool, dry weather very similar to Brevard temperatures during December. They’re salt-hardy, too, so they will thrive beachside, gladly sharing their blooms for well into the summer.

a close up of a flower: detail shot of a evening glow geranium. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May. © Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY detail shot of a evening glow geranium. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May.

“Once the heat starts, you can still get about half of them to live if you baby them and put them in the shade,” Ball said.

Bromeliads also make good poinsettia replacement units, as witnessed by the stunning bromeliad tree at Rockledge Gardens.

“This one was done with red colored bromeliads and neon pothos,” marketing director Liz Lark-Riley said. “The frame was made by Bullis Bromeliads, a company we discovered at the Landscape Show in the fall.”

Although Bullis Bromeliads sell only to the trade, Ball mentioned that for next season Landscape Depot in Rockledge anticipates carrying these bromeliad stands in several sizes, including a style that can be placed against a wall. You will be able to use the stand for years to come, since the affable bromeliads will stick around for a long time without too much fussing.

“Leave them alone and they are happy,” Ball said.

Christmas cactus, another popular holiday plant, can be as stunning as any poinsettia, with branches that bloom and grow up to three feet long. Blooms last for several days and the entire blooming period can span several weeks. It is easy to care for, and even better, it propagates easily, so you can have plenty of cactus babies by just cutting small y-shaped segments from the stem tips. If given the right love and location, the plant will repay the kindness with additional blooming cycles throughout the year.

a close up of a flower: A close up of a geranium underneath a purple bougainvillea in a bed of pine bark,. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May. © Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY A close up of a geranium underneath a purple bougainvillea in a bed of pine bark,. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May.

For Sandy Ball, plants in Santa’s “nice” list includes the bougainvillea, the tropical vine that can be evergreen or deciduous according to the dryness of the climate. Relatively pest-free and very salt tolerant, the plants offer a profusion of colors that include bright reds and whites.

“It blooms all winter,” Ball said. “If you want some beautiful color, that is the plant to get.”

The sweet petunias also perform well during a Florida holiday.

“There’s a red and white mix that is very colorful,” Ball said.

Amaryllis, too, are beautiful this time of year and make for wonderful gifts.

Anthuriums, the world’s longest blooming plants, will regale you with Christmas in July is you just let them.

Yes, poinsettias, plenty of competitors are out to out-wow you, so you better watch out.

a close up of a flower garden in front of a stone building: An entryway planter of geraniums welcomes guests. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May. © Malcolm Denemark/FLORIDA TODAY An entryway planter of geraniums welcomes guests. Alan and Sharon Smith have added 500 evening glow geraniums to their yard giving their beautiful Indialantic home on the point bright accent colors that will last until the end of May.

“You want your place to stand out during the holidays and these plants can help do that for you,” Ball said.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Geraniums a good choice for the holidays

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