“Land plants bring out the best in us and always elicit a smile» begins Stefano Pagano agricultural expert, graduated in Ornamental Green and Landscape Protection and full-time gardener on the hills of Reggio Emilia. “Autumn is a second spring, now is the time to plant plants and flowers that will last throughout the winter and even beyond”. Not only for the lucky ones who have a garden, great satisfaction can also be found on balconies and small windowsills, if the right plants are chosen.

    Stefano Pagano is not just a gardener: for him, flowers also give color to the heart.

    For those who only have a windowsill

    If the outdoor space is that of a balcony planter in this season, but also in the middle of winter, they can be planted one or more cyclamen. You will be spoiled for choice with the many colors that this romantic decoration offers. «Among plants with flowers it is one of the easiest to manage, it loves the cold, it is just a little difficult to water due to its heart-shaped leaves. Instead of spraying water and damaging the flowers, stop immerse the vase in water at room temperature for 10 minutes and then let it drain well» advises Pagano who, in addition to being a “gardener” since he was little, also offers tutorials on social networks (Ig ste.pagano_thegardener, Fb: Stefano Pagano).
    Be careful though, cyclamen will bloom again the following year only if they are pruned well. “The secret is to cut the stem at the base, once the flower has fallen. In this way the plant remains protected from infections and, if kept in the shade for the whole summer, in a year’s time it will still give us its “drooping” flowers».

    For those who have at least one balcony

    «Red, white, fuchsia, it begins to bloom as early as mid-October, continues until Christmas and remains in bloom until Valentine’s Day: it’s theHeather, one of the most common evergreen plants also for its many flowers. In December it can also be kept in full sun» explains Stefano Pagano. To grow well it needs an acidophilic soil, so it’s fine to add the fertilizer that is used for summer azaleas, but you can also put a little vinegar in the water with which you wet it. «The important thing is not to use the water from the tap immediately, but to leave it in the watering can overnight, so that the limestone settles and the temperature is not too cold. If iron chelates are added, the colors become even brighter and remain so even when the plant has dried out» explains the gardener. At this point just spray a little hairspray on the dry heather for hair and behold created a royal composition for Christmas.

    If the balcony has a free wall you can use this to make us a creeper grows. Certainly in the ground these plants are more luxuriant, but even from a large pot they can cover even the grayest wall with a coppery or purple mantle. “There Virginia creeper grows in spring, but this season it is tinged with fuchsia, with the frost then the leaves will fall and it will be nice to collect them to use as place cards or to do some work with the children. To have brighter colors I recommend manure, better pellets so the smell it gives off is more contained and disappears in a couple of days and you don’t have to dose, risking burning the plant» concludes Pagano.

    If you are lucky enough to have a garden

    “This is the berry season, plants that know how to give not only flowers, but also pyrotechnic colors thanks to their colorful “balls”. Among many I recommend the Pernettya or Gaultheria, also called mountain tea which produces very colorful balls: they almost look like beads and can also be in a pot, so even those who only have a terrace can plant it» suggests Pagano. “Also there Skimmia japonica var. rubbella is a plant that gives great satisfaction in winter, because it’s a bit special: when the buds are closed they are red and can be mistaken for berries. In December, however, they will open giving us very elegant white flowers» explains the gardener. It’s a perfect plant for anyone who has a garden because it’s perennial, that is, it doesn’t die at the end of the season, but it blooms again every year. However, there is also a dwarf variety that can be grown in pots on the balcony.
    «If the garden is rock it is perfect instead the Cotoneaster, which is a ground cover, i.e. it covers the ground, flowers in spring and is covered with berries in autumn» clarifies Stefano Pagano. It is the ideal plant for those who want “an evergreen 4 seasons” but don’t have much time to take care of it, you can forget you even have it, it tolerates drought well, so it continues to grow even in summer, even if we don’t pay much attention to it.

    Plants in the house against autumn melancholy, good mood allies

    If you only have the living room…

    Without balconies or a garden it is not said that you have to give up greenery in winter. Indeed, just transform the living room or even just the stairs into a small flowerbed in a pot. In this time the Christmas star cannot be missing. «The Princettia variety is very fashionable this year. It has fuchsia-pink flowers and is a small size, therefore, you don’t need much space to keep it. It is good to remember, however, that it is a plant that wants heat and must always stay inside, away from doors and windows that open often, because it loses its leaves with the drafts» explains Stefano Pagano, who also takes care of gardening in the E-planet program broadcast every Sunday at 2 pm on Italia1. The poinsettia also it should be kept away from the little ones of the house, including the furry onesbecause the white sap that comes out when you break a twig can be toxic to humans and animals.
    Another plant that right now is the right time to buy it and bring it indoors is the orchid. There are many varieties of these plants with elegant flowers but one of the simplest to manage is the Phalenopsis Orchid, or butterfly orchidso called because its petals resemble the wings of a moth.
    «To make it survive for a long time and also flourish again several times just follow three simple rules. First, it must always be in e near a window, but on the opposite side of the opening, so it is protected from drafts. Then it’s a tropical plant so it wants humid heat: it should be nebulised often and the leaves must be cleaned with a cloth soaked in milk, only in this way will they be shiny. Free from dust, the stomata will be able to breathe well making the plant grow. Lastly, it is important to feed it with fertilizer in vials specific for orchids and should be kept high up, or in any case away from transit areas, because it is very delicate and can die if it breaks».

    …or just a desk

    The beauty of plants and flowers is that they are so many and varied that there is one suitable for every place or temperature, even in the somewhat closed air of the office. A succulent plant can be placed on the desklet’s hope a Kalanchoe that makes many colorful flowers and it needs very little space, in the summer it can also be taken to the windowsill. «The important thing is that the roots never get soaked, even when watering the water must always be removed from the saucer» recalls the gardener also endorsed by the computer technician, because water and PC never want to be close together.
    Watering is one of the most critical gestures for those approaching gardening. Too much water is often given or it is left to stagnate, causing the roots of the plant to rot. Nevertheless the trick is very simple: to quench our colorful friends’ thirst without damaging them, just get your hands dirty. «By inserting a finger into the plant, even with gloves, you can immediately see if water is needed: if the finger comes out clean it means that the soil is dry, but if it comes out dirty it means that the earth has stuck together because it is damp, so we wait water again» concludes Stefano Pagano.

    When plants and flowers become a game

    If you only have one jar on your windowsill, you can play a game with the children. Plant a bulb: winter is the best time to teach little ones the magic of nature. If the space available is such as to guarantee at least 5-7 centimeters between one bulb and another, you can also create a small flowerbed in a pot. «Tulips, daffodils, this is the moment to plant them. If you prefer an early flowering, however, it is appropriate to plant immediately the snowdropswhich will come out in February or the hyacinthsi» suggests the gardener.
    We can also forget about it, for be enchanted in spring when they come out. The advice is to place them scattered, not in a row or in a geometric order, because nature does not rule and if someone does not germinate, once the plants have sprouted you will not see the hole. “I recommend the bulb must hear the bells, so it should not be buried in the ground, but only slightly covered with earth” concludes the gardening expert who invites everyone to get their hands dirty, from an early age, with earth, plants and flowers for a greener world starting from our home.