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Azalias & Mums Indoors

Potted azalea (cogito ergo imago, flickr).

Potted azaleas are beautiful but not always easy to keep alive indoors. However, the garden variety, Azalea mollis, is sometimes used successfully as a houseplant.

Indoors these plants like to be kept as cool as possible, and they prefer water without lime so use rainwater if possible. Dunk the whole plant once a week in a bucket of water and let it drip dry. If this is not possible, set it in the bathtub, spray it all over with water, and then let it drip dry in the bath.

Once all danger of frost has passed, azalea plants can be placed in a sheltered place outdoors where they can be fertilized and watered well all summer, and they may persist.

If you receive a potted chrysanthemum as a gift, you can keep that for a few weeks, or even a few months, in front of a window where it gets good light. Away from a window, it will rarely thrive indoors, except under lights.

If you're lucky enough to keep a mum alive indoors in a pot until spring, plant it outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Cut the plant back hard to encourage new growth and hope for the best, as it is difficult to know which of these mums-bred in greenhouses to be gift plants-will turn out to be winter hardy.

Sometimes the joy of receiving a flowering plant in the dreary months of winter is so wonderful that we should not worry about keeping them a long time indoors or planting them outside, but just enjoy them in their prime.

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