Monday, December 24, 2007
Red, Pink and White Christmas
Winter Reds, Pinks and Whites with Poinsettias
by Billie A. Williams
Euphorbia Pulcherrims, better knows in lay terms as poinsettias. This is the time of year you will see them everywhere in shades of the always popular red to pink to white. In The American Horticultural Society’s A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, it is mixed in with other cactus-like plants. This should give you a clue to its care and habits. But then, it’s a bloomer, it has a natural resting time that forces the color to the leaves—the part we think is the flower—much like the Christmas cactus it needs its hours of darkness. So, how do we care for them?
The poinsettia should be placed in a warm sunny window to receive maximum beauty. Do not, however, allow the leaves to touch the glass. As with all cactus, water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. Do not let the plant become soggy. Poinsettia do not like wet feet, as we say in the plant world.
At some point leaves begin to fall, or you have had enough of the winter beauty and are ready to make room for spring plants. You’ve become attached to this beauty from the cactus world. Can you save it for next year? Certainly!
According to Jerry Baker in his book Great Green Book of Garden Secrets, you should stop watering the Poinsettia, when the leaves begin to drop off store it in a cool dry place [like you did the summer geraniums you hoped to winter over].
In the spring, you can begin to water it again after you’ve severely pruned it back to about 6 inches in height. If you keep the stems pinched back as new leaves begin to form, you will have a compact, bushy, beautiful poinsettia in time for next Christmas. From early October until blooming starts in late November or mid December, place the plant in a dark closet for 12 hours a day and then place it in a bright sunny window for the other 12 hours each day. You should see your plant return to its former gorgeous self.
Please do remember that poinsettias are one of those beauties that are also toxic to children and pets. So do keep this in mind when you place the plants around your house.
*A TIP: from Jerry Baker about bugs and house plants: Bugs won’t take up residence in the soil of your house plants if you sprinkle the shavings from your pencil sharpener onto the soil. If you don’t have a pencil sharpener in your home, ask your child or a friend’s child’s teacher if you might have the contents of their pencil sharpener occasionally. “Waste not, want not,” my parents used to say. Organic gardening is all about recycling whatever we can whenever we can.
Permission to use as long as you include this resource box:
Billie A Williams
Small Town Secrets (available January 2008)
Fire rages across the tiny town of Nettlesville. Someone is bent on burning it down to the ground one building at a time. Can Chaneeta Morgan and Olga Corn bury their rivalry long enough to stop the arsonist before the town is nothing but ashes, or will Chaneeta’s secret past destroy her and possibly the town?