This week, I've been taking what I'd like to think is a well-earned vacation. But even though I'm technically "off the clock," I'm still finding interesting ideas to try in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.
Since we're heading into the much cooler winter months, I've come across several clever uses of unusual planting combinations we can enjoy indoors.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared ideas for buying and caring for your Christmas poinsettia to brighten your holiday decorations. One use of poinsettias that I absolutely love is having five or seven massed together on a counter or table. But where I'm relaxing in parts unknown, they are using poinsettias as massed landscape plantings. It's very beautiful and very holiday, but too bad we can't do this in Mississippi.
Now, here is an idea we can do. How about using poinsettias in combination containers?
For several years, Southern Gardening has promoted combining the Mississippi Medallion winner Diamond Frost and poinsettias in the same container.
The white of Diamond Frost provides the perfect contrast to your favorite poinsettia color. Both plants are in the euphorbia family and have similar growing characteristics and care needs.
Here is a combo that is new to me and has me asking, "Why didn't I think of this one?" Combining poinsettias with two very common indoor plants creates a completely new combination to show off to your friends and family.
Anyone can cook up this combination using a 10-inch container and the thriller, spiller and filler recipe.
Obviously, we want to show off the poinsettia as the thriller plant. I would select a 6- to 8-inch poinsettia in your choice of color and put it in the middle of the container.
For the spiller, use a variegated spider plant. It has a naturally arching form that will hang out over the container edge and produce stalks with baby plantlets that will continue to spill over the edge. Then, randomly place small asparagus ferns to fill in the open spaces. In 10 minutes, you'll have a gorgeous combination planter that should last all winter.
Other ideas I've seen use caladiums as potted, indoor holiday plants. They make good choices since caladiums range in color from solid reds, greens and whites to very extravagant combinations that include spots, blotches and stripes. I think they would fit right in with your favorite Christmas sweater.
In the spring, you can plant these in the garden to enjoy and remind you of a special Christmas past.
I know it's too late to try caladiums this year, but it's never too late to start planning for 2016, right?
Gary Bachman , is a professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.