Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Flowers - Poinsettia

For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a half-dozen or more Poinsettia plants decorating my home. I love their deep red flowers against the mass of dark green.  Although there are other colors such as white or pink, I still stay with the traditional variety.  But what stunned me most was when I went to Florida around Christmas to visit my parents and saw just how big they grew. Bushes up to thirteen foot in height loaded with red blooms were as prolific as Lilacs in Ohio. 

So if you, like me, love to bring them home or enjoy passing them off as a gift, here are a few suggestions.

**Poinsettias are a tropical plant that enjoys temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F.
**So if you need to carry them out into inclement weather, wrap them up, but make sure you unwrap them as soon as you are in to reduce the amount of damage to the leaves.
**Poinsettias can last long into winter months if kept by a sunny window and away from drafts (hot or cold). And don’t let the leaves touch the cold window.

Poinsettias will flower again next year with a little TLC. 

     **After flowers have died off (February-March timeframe), cut each of the stems back to 4 to 6 inches in height, leaving one to three leaves on each branch. Keep the plant in a sunny window and fertilize every two weeks.

     **In late spring or early summer after all danger of frost has past you can plant it in a shady area outside and water frequently.  Then in August prune the branches again like you did in late winter.

     **Before first frost take it inside, keep fertilizing every other week.  In September make sure the plant is kept in complete darkness from late afternoon until morning.  Do this until red starts showing in the leaves.

Poinsettia Toxicity:

On the whole toxicity from Poinsettia plants is overrated.  However, Irritation to the mouth and stomach, can sometimes causing vomiting. From what I’ve read it would take eating many leaves to cause a reaction.  I would, however, error on the side of caution.

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