Friday, November 26, 2010

A Catalyst

Gardens always mean something else, man absolutely uses one thing to say another.
~Robert Harbison, Eccentric Spaces, 1977

Do you celebrate Christmas? Well I do, and if you are like me sometimes you may need something to help transition you into the mood for all the hustle and bustle that can at times accompany this blessed celebration.

This week I got that catalyst at the greenhouse where I volunteer and I thought I’d share it with you.

Gorgeous I think. We have two greenhouses full of nothing but Poinsettias, truly a sight to see. And it was snowing outside.

In 1829 Joel Roberts Poinsett brought cuttings of this plant to the US from Mexico. The Poinsettia we enjoy today is reportedly nothing like that original plant as hybridizers have improved its ability to be brought indoors and kept in a pot. Poinsettias are of the Euphorbia family, and are native to warm climate regions like SE Europe, Mediterranean, Africa, South America and Morocco.

Depending on where you are they can be annual potted plants or perennial shrubs. I’ve seen a picture of my grandmother standing in front of a six foot (1.82 m) shrub in California, in full bloom. That is amazing to me as up here in the colder north our winter climates will kill them. Just getting a potted plant from the store to the house can do serious harm if you let them get too chilled.

• In the cold north if purchasing a potted poinsettia is on your day’s list of errands, pick it up last just before you go home. Leaving it in a cold car all day can kill it.

• In your house they need warm temps, nights in the low 60’s F (15-17C) and day highs around 70 F (21C).

• Place them away from cold drafts and give them a half day of sun.

• Let the soil dry slightly between watering.

• If you get one in a decorative foil or plastic sleeve be sure to cut the bottom of the sleeve off or be sure to allow the pot to fully drain after watering it before you return it to the sleeve. A poinsettia sitting in a pool of water in the sleeve will drown.

• The white sap you see if a leaf or stem breaks off is normal for the Euphorbia family. For some it can be a skin irritant so wash it off if you get any on you. If you have pets that like to eat plants or grass, put it out of their reach if possible. My local poison control center says today’s varieties are no longer poisonous to pets but better be safe than sorry. I personally know of 2 cats that have nibbled on poinsettia leaves with no ill effects. But that’s nibbled not devoured.

Are you going to get a Poinsettia this year? What’s your favorite color? I love the dark burgundy ones but last year I was partial to a red speckled beauty. Maybe I’ll get a white one this year. It’s fun to see the new hybrids that come out every year.

In Bloom In My Garden Today: nothing, three days of below freezing temperatures has wiped out all that was blooming.

Author’s photo


Cindy said...

gosh you get to do the neatest things!

good for you, and I might not get one this year.

I always kill them and even if they live a year...they look bad.

I love the pink ones!


maybe if I end up with one I can use your tips to help keep it beautiful!
and yes we celebrate Christmas!

Joan said...

Hi Cindy!
I don't try to keep them as house plants anymore...I toss mine after Christmas. Too much effort to get them to rebloom and they are not expensive in the 6" pot size.

We are growing several pink varieties this's a popular color :)

Meri said...

Hi, neat site!
I love poinsettias- someone brought one into work from last season that had been wintered and it was a much softer shade of pinkish red- beautiful! I'm partial to the white ones too!


Joan said...

Hi Meri!
Welcome to my blog and I'm glad you like what you see. I did end up getting a white one. Your co-worker did a good job if he/she got it to bloom again. That takes some effort. Let me know what color you end up getting. Do you garden too? Thanks ever so much for visiting!