Caring for Poinsettias

Poinsettia by kadavoor

This is the time of year that many homes are enjoying the Poinsettia plant, euphorbia pulcherrima, that they either bought for themselves to decorate their homes for the holidays or received as holiday gifts. And though we are enjoying the beauty of the red leaves that look like flowers, many of us wish we could save the plant and have those beautiful colors return next year.   See a previous post on this topic here.

TheGardenLady received advice from a blog she has signed up to receive that gives information on all sorts of gardening. This month they have an article on caring for a Poinsettia so that it will give you the beauty of the color next December. This information comes from a professional plant nursery in West Virginia that TheGardenLady visited this past fall. Bob’s Market Nursery has a wonderful blog that any gardener can subscribe to as well.

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Creative and Inexpensive Garden Gifts for Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanza

be gentle and nurture by janoid
be gentle and nurture by janoid

December is the holiday month with Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza and numerous other festive gift giving days. In my family, December is also the birthday month for four members. In these hard economic times, TheGardenLady likes to come up with creative but inexpensive gift ideas so as not to break the bank.

You can give IOUs to friends. Make or buy a pretty card- preferably with a flower on it – and offer your friend your services in the friend’s garden. For example, write on the card that you owe your friend one day of weeding time or if your friend is going somewhere, offer to water the flowers – indoors and/or outdoors when your friend is away. Or if your friend is away from the college campus while you will be around, offer to care for any plants.

Or one can propagate plants from your own plants. This is a little late in the year to get started for the plant to really be showy in time for Christmas and is really not the time to propagate outdoor plants; but one can attempt to propagate some simple indoor plants even at this late time of the year. The easiest way of propagating indoor plants is by taking leaf cuttings. Not all plants will propagate by leaf cuttings. Some simple, pretty plants amenable to this type of propagation are coleus, begonias and African violets. Sometimes all that is needed to get a root to form is to just put a stem with leaf cutting in water.

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Getting Poinsettias to Turn Red

Poinsettia flowers, after blooming by Martin LaBar
Poinsettia flowers, after blooming by Martin LaBar

TheGardenLady received this question from John:

I have a Poinsettia that I kept outside in a 12″pot from last Christmas. The plant has gotten pretty big and nice green color with no pruning. What can I do to this Pointsettia to get it to turn red?  Or am I too late?

You may be just a little late in starting to acclimate the Poinsettia to enable the bracts (those are the leaves that look like petals ) on your Poinsettia to turn red by December and to get flowers. Even if you start now and are lucky, the plant may not have the red bracts and flowers until Valentine’s day. Since having a healthy plant is part of the battle, it is worth, at least once, to try to convince the plant to give you the color you want even if you start late. If you don’t have success this year and the plant continues to be healthy and has no insect infestation, don’t toss the plant, but try again next year. Try starting the regimen a little earlier to see if you can do it.

It takes some effort and pampering to make the plant get those red bracts and bloom a second time – something that nurseries do in light and temperature controlled greenhouses where they have the needed equipment and a crew to do the work; but some people have had success in the home.

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Holiday Poinsettias

Read this excellent article by Michelle Gervais on Poinsettias.   According to it, Poinsettias are NOT poisonous to humans and rats. It doesn’t say anything about cats and dogs. It discusses how to choose the best plant, the care of the plant and it gives sites for more information on the plant.