Friday, December 01, 2006

Poinsettia, The Christmas Plant

If, or when, my ship comes in, I'll buy a little cottage on the island of Kauai. There, I will garden to my heart's content (instead of shoveling snow as I was doing earlier this morning.) This is what's called a pipe dream 'cause I can't even afford a parking space in Hawaii.

But, what is life without dreams? One of mine is to step out on the front porch of my little grass shack (in December, of course) and see a garden wildly blooming with scarlet Poinsettias. As it is, I only get to enjoy them once a year and they're not exactly wild.

Holiday Poinsettias:
Treat them kindly and they will bloom until Valentines Day. Pamper them and they can grow to be 10 feet tall.
  • Take care bringing them home. Poinsettias will drop their leaves if exposed to cold temps for as little as 10 minutes.
  • Remove the decorative foil, or plastic wrap, as soon as you get them home.
  • Roots need to breathe and soil should be slightly dry before watering. No fertilizer required.
  • Choose a cool spot with bright light for longest flowering.
You have to 'force' them to produce these gorgeous blooms. Forcing Poinsettias requires discipline and I've never known anyone to have great success. For 8 weeks they need a strict, daily routine: 10 hours of sunlight and 14 hours of total darkness. (Mess up even once and you have to start all over again.) Feeling brave? Force them during September and October, put them in a sunny window in November. Maybe, just maybe, you'll get a few red flowers.

* December 12th is National Poinsettia Day. Why wait? A dozen Poinsettias are cheaper than a live tree. Go nuts. :)

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