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Poinsettia Pointers

Anne Jaeger


Pointers on Poinsettias.

This…. Is not your grandmother’s old poinsettia anymore.  Gone are the spindly stems with three clusters of color… Today’s new generation poinsettias are huge, bold, breathtaking and so much easier to take care of.  Take that Winter Rose poinsettia, for instance, it comes in white, pink and yes, red… but have you ever seen anything like those “flowers”?  The bracts (what we call the flower…) resemble a perfectly opened rose.  The creases down the center of the petals look as if some elf took a Serger sewing machine to them. They’re all “puckery”–for lack of a better word.  Joel Poinsett, the guy who imported the plant from Mexico in 1825, would definitely bust his buttons over these babies.  In his day only the wealthy could afford them.  Now, everybody can and over the years buying a poinsettia has become more of an obligation than cheerful tradition.  “You get very numb to the look of them, I think” says Portland flight attendant Sheryl Plath.   You should have seen her face as she became positively “twitterpatted” at the sight of the new poinsettias.   Now Plath says “THIS… is a must have for the season”.  And they come in so many different colors.  Doug Hart of Harts Nursery in Jefferson says it’s taken a half century to breed them beyond red because “People want colors that match their couch.”  Harts grows 12,000 poinsettia’s mostly for fundraisers. The “flowers” are now marbled, two-toned, salmon, pink, plum, white, peppermint, peach, velvet red and speckled.  And they’ll last all year if you care for them properly.   And since the poinsettia is America’s number one selling potted plant, this is a good time for a refresher course.  Here’s what I’ve learned;  put the plant in the brightest part of a room but don’t let the leaves touch window panes. If the leaves start dropping off it’s one of two things:  You’re not watering it right or the plant caught a draft.   Poinsettias don’t like air blowing on them… hot or cold. Placing them too close to a forced air vent or the breeze from an outside door will do them in quick.  Lemme give you a word or two about watering.  Try not to let the plant dry out.  Touch the soil to see if it’s moist.  If not, it’s time to take the plant for a walk all the way to the sink. Remove that plastic foil shrink wrap around the pot before setting the plant in the basin.  Now run lukewarm water slowly through the pot until the water runs out the bottom. Place the pot back in the sleeve and that’s it.  There you go, just a coupla tricks to make the leaves Ho-Ho-Hold until well after the holidays!


Proper Poinsettia Pointers:     

(Say:  “Poin-set-ah” or “Poin-set-TEA-ah”)

*The plant is not poisonous to humans or animals.

*For cut flowers, run a flame over the cut end to seal it, and then place in vase of lukewarm water.

*Keep soil moist but not soggy.

*Keep out of drafts.

*To re-bloom:  Give the plant COMPLETE darkness (14 hours) from October to Thanksgiving.