A week of flowers 2022, Day two

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week

2. Poinsettia

White poinsettia

There’s no Christmas plant more iconic than the Poinsettia. It’s the most popular houseplant in the UK at Christmas, and with its gorgeous mixture of red and green festive foliage, it’s easy to see why. Around 8 million are sold every single year. Red varieties are by far the most popular, but other colours, including white and pink, are also grown. 

Poinsettias are a little different to other flowering plants. The popular red ‘petals’ are actually bracts, the upper leaves of the plant. The flowers themselves are tiny, but can be seen nestled in the middle of the leaves, and are usually green or yellow in colour.

Poinsettias are native to Central America, where they flower in the winter. In Mexico, they are part of a Christmas legend. It’s said that a poor girl was looking for a present to give to the baby Jesus at a Christmas service, but there was little she could afford, and so she resorted to bringing a small bouquet of weeds from the road. When she placed the humble bouquet at the Nativity scene, it transformed into the beautiful red Poinsettia.

Poinsettia Care Tips

To help keep your Poinsettia looking healthy and fresh over the festive period, you can follow a few simple care tips. Keep the plant in bright sunlight for around six hours a day, whilst keeping it away from direct sunlight, drafts, and heat. The soil should be kept moist, but you should avoid overwatering and having it sit in excess water. Wait until the top layer of soil is dry to the touch before adding more water. 

When cared for properly, the flowers and bracts on Poinsettias can last for a few months. Once the plant has finished blooming in the spring, you should trim back the stem and prune old leaves and flowers. 

Poinsettias and Christmas Cake

It can be tricky to get them to rebloom the following Christmas, but you can help Poinsettias along by watering them and occasionally adding fertiliser to the soil throughout the year. To encourage them to bloom again, it’s recommended to leave them in complete darkness for 14 hours a night starting in October. This can be done simply by covering the plant with a box, or placing it in a cupboard. This kickstarts the flowering process and colour change from green to fiery red.

A week of flowers 2022, Day one

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

Certain blooms are traditionally associated with the season, so in this series we’ll be covering some favourite Christmas flowers and plants.

1. Amaryllis


Amaryllis is a popular Christmas bloom. It blooms with festive bright red flowers that are the perfect match for traditional Christmas colours. Other varieties produce snowy white flowers, ideal for that winter wonderland look. The flowers are very large and trumpet shaped, making them naturally eye catching. 

Despite their wintry reputation, they are actually tropical plants native to South and Central America. Nevertheless, they became popular gifts at Christmas as they can bloom indoors in the winter. Although it’s commonly bought as a plant, it works just as well in bouquets, adding showy flair to arrangements. It looks especially fabulous when paired with other festive foliage like berries.


Amaryllis also has the benefit of being very long lasting. The plants bloom for around 7 weeks at a time, meaning they’ll look stunning throughout the festive period and beyond. Similarly, cut Amaryllis have an impressive vase life, and with proper care will last three weeks or more. Buy a bouquet a couple of weeks before Christmas and you can enjoy it until after the New Year.

In the traditional language of flowers, Amaryllis symbolises strength, confidence, success and determination. The perfect way to send your best wishes for a New Year full of prosperity. 

Note: Interestingly, the plants commonly called ‘Amaryllis’ are actually part of the Hippeastrum genus. The only true Amaryllis is native to South Africa, and is the only plant in that genus. This was eventually decided after many centuries of debate and confusion amongst botanists.  


Friday Florals : Disa atricapilla

Bren’s Friday Florals

Photo credit

Lisa Drogemoller.

Disa atricapilla (Orchidaceae) A perennial up to 30cm with narrow cauline leaves (arising from the stem). The unusual coloured inflorescence is corymbose (flat-topped) with up to 20 flowers, the large wing-like side sepals are red and white with black tips, the petals and lip are maroon and speckled.

Floral Friday – FF#75

Bren’s Floral Friday Challenge

Daubenya zeyheri- Crown lily

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daubenya zeyheri  is one of 8 bulbous species in the genus, all endemic to the winter rainfall Strandveld of South Africa, and mostly growing on doleritic clays along the West Coast, Western Cape.It is closely related to Daubenya marginata . At first believed to consist of a single species, Daubenya aurea, the genus was expanded in 2000 to include the genera Androsiphon and Amphisiphon and various species that had previously been classified as PolyxenaMassonia, or Neobakeria“The poor congruence between morphological and other characters within Hyacinthaceae has also made generic circumscriptions very difficult. One of the consequences of this has been the recognition of a large number of genera that are poorly defined morphologically.”


All 8 species have two spreading, prostrate leaves and tubular flowers that range from white to yellow or red, and in 6 of the species are followed by smooth glossy seeds within papery capsules that lend themselves to anemochory or wind dispersal. The inflorescence is produced at ground level on a sub-surface peduncle between the two leaves. Species are variously pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, the monkey beetle Lepisia glenlyonensisand sunbirds. The water-retaining nature of doleritic clays ensures their remaining moist for longer than clays formed from shales of the Karoo series. Exceptionally D. namaquensis is found in deep red sands and D. zeyheri in calcareous coastal sands.

To attract pollinating sunbirds, pools of nectar form in the tubular flowers of Daubenya zeyheri. It is found growing along the coast between boulders and on calcareous sands between Paternoster and Langebaan, within a very small area of some 200 km2. Total population is estimated at no more than 6 500 plants, threatened by plant collectors, and habitat loss due to coastal development and limestone extraction,  It has a sturdy pedicel supporting a corymbose inflorescence. When the fruits are mature the peduncle elongates rapidly as a prelude to dispersal of the seeds. The fruit is a papery capsule, inflated and three-angled, dehiscing loculicidally in the upper portion. The capsules fall free at maturity and disperse separately. The seeds are globose and black with a smooth testa, ranging 2–3 mm diam.

There is no formal conservation policy for Daubenya species and their future prospects remain bleak. Cultivated bulbs of D. aurea are on offer at commercial nurseries, though all the species are worthy of cultivation for their bright and often fragrant flowers.


Photos courtesy of of Wessel

Floral Friday – FF#73

Bren’s Floral Friday Challenge


Vygies – or mesembryanthemums – are truly South Africa’s most colourful plant group. Their silky-textured flowers – in just about every colour of the rainbow – will give an extraordinary luminosity to any border. With more than 1 800 species from which to choose, whatever your taste in plants and garden design, there will be a vygie to suit your fancy.

The widely used Afrikaans name vygie – which literally means ‘small fig’ – is based on the fact that the top-like fruiting capsule also resembles a small fig. The best know spring-flowering vygies are the Drosanthemum, Delosperma and Lampranthus species. They include many small shrub-like plants as well as groundcovers, and have an enormous range of flower colours.

Lampranthus species have smooth leaves, and large, shiny flowers. Delospermaspecies have conspicuous seed compartments, whilst the leaves of Drosanthemum species differ from those above because of their dew-like shiny cells on the epidermis – hence their common name, ice plant.