Poinsettia Aftercare

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Remember this lovely pink poinsettia? Well, sadly, it didn’t look like that for long. I don’t know if these new cultivars are more finicky than regular poinsettias, or if it was this plant in particular, but it dropped its leaves on a regular basis almost from the moment it left the greenhouse and entered my care.

By comparison, the other poinsettia I bought at the same time from the same place was far more easy care and would have maintained its leaves until now had I permitted it.

But it’s the end of February, almost March, and by now no one wants to look at poinsettias. Most of us are thinking spring!

The true gardener doesn’t toss the poinsettia, however (unless space is at a premium. In that case, I hope you can compost it at least).

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Here’s the pink poinsettia today. It’s already on its way to lots of new regrowth. In fact, it looks great. I have it in a south window and despite the fact that they don’t like cold, it is tolerating the cooler temperatures in that window just fine. It must be the brighter spring sunshine sustaining it during the day.

So I will keep it there until about Memorial Day (or later if we have a cold spring). Then I will transition it outside to a shady area at first, then a partly sunny place for the summer. It will stay there until early September when I will bring it back in.

At that point, I will put it back into a sunny window, but I will make sure it’s in a room we don’t use much–likely our living room. Chances are, by next December, it will begin to set its colorful bracts again.

Knowing how easy this is, try keeping your poinsettia next year. They’re not really “toss away” plants.

Do You Know Princettia?

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On Monday I talked about the un-poinsettia or the anti-poinsettia. Today I am going to talk about a new cultivar called Princettia.https://princettia.eu/shop/compact/Princettia

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What are Princettia poinsettias? They are trademarked poinsettias developed by Suntory of Japan. But basically they have been developed to be shorter, with more compact stems but much more floriflorous bracts (the colorful things that look like flowers.)

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Right now they come in a few heights of white (yes, you read that correctly–not colors of white, but varying heights), a six different shades of pink (from pale pink through a more true pink to a deeper dark pink that’s almost fuchsia) and of course, a red.

If you remember the “rose” poinsettias from the last decade, these are probably comparable to those in number of petals–but of course, those were still like regular poinsettias in that they were tall–maybe even taller and narrower than some of the other varieties.

These are compact plants just covered in blooms–as one look at the web site reveals–and in person, they are stunning (as my unfortunate photography just doesn’t do them justice!)

They have been in cultivation for a few years but are just becoming readily available for gardeners. This holiday season, since we now know that poinsettias are not poisonous, perhaps you might like to try one?

The Un-Poinsettia

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Each year, I post photos of aglaeonema, commonly known as Chinese evergreen plant, and call it something silly like the un-poinsettia or the anti-poinsettia.

Let’s face it: growers are losing the battle with poinsettias. Many people still believe the old myth that they are poisonous (they are NOT!)

But even if you don’t believe that myth, you may be like me, and may be limited by a cold house.

Or you simply may not want to look at a screaming red plant well into April–or longer. If any of these things is the case, aglaeonemas are the plant for you.

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Usually I post a photo of this one because its color scheme is most “Christmas-like.” This is the appropriately named red stem variety.

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If this is even too much red for you, this variety tones it down a bit. This variety is called Lipstick.

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And if you just like the plant and don’t care about a holiday color scheme, this bright variety might be for you. This is Red Valentine.

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All of these variations were developed from green plants, if you can imagine. Here’s a lovely green and white variety called Silver Queen.

If all of these choices don’t give you something to choose from when decorating, perhaps silk is more to your liking?

Grower’s Results without the Fuss

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Here’s a zygocactus that I recently got from a grower. It’s lovely and full of buds, a few of which have already opened.

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Now here is one of mine that I’ve had for a couple of years–also full of buds. I may have 10 or 12 this size and you’ll see most, if not all of them on my “Wordless Wednesdays,” no doubt over the next few months.

If you’ll notice, mine has a many–or more–buds than the one I got from the grower. While you may say “so what?” you need to remember a couple of things: first I am a totally organic grower and next, I don’t fertilize.

So how did I achieve this? Simple. I put these plants outside this year, something I hadn’t done in the past.

I had never put them outside because they are “succulent-like,” and I was concerned that they would get too much moisture and would rot. But this year, with surgery on my arm, I had a little more time to pay closer attention to my container plants (since I couldn’t do a lot of the heavier work in the garden) so I was able to monitor them closely.

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So they never got too wet–and rainwater obviously did them a word of good. Several shoots are double-budded like this one. This may be my new care regimin–so long as we don’t have a monsoonal rainy summer.

While We’re On The Subject of Misunderstood Plants….

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Okay, this isn’t the most glorious looking poinsettia you’ve ever seen but what if I told you this is its third year blooming–and it’s blooming here in July?

So what does that say about these plants? First, that you don’t have to put them in dark closets or under a box to get them to bloom–you can see that this one is sitting on a file cabinet in my office.

Next, that they are so much more than the finicky plants that we buy at the holidays and then discard. They actually grow into shrubs in tropical countries like Mexico and central America (so, no putting them in closets or putting boxes over them there, clearly).

So that’s myth number one–that poinsettias need to be kept in artificial darkness to rebloom.

The next myth gets us toxicity–a subject I touched on with respect to children and pets on Monday. While it’s just never a good idea to eat any plant unless you’re sure of its consumability (there are a few truly toxic plants out there–I even own some!) poinsettias are not toxic. They may give you a stomach ache–but they won’t kill you.

And despite all sorts of articles all over the web from completely reputable sources (here ite all sorts of articles all over the web from completely repurable sources (here ite all sorts of articles all over the web from completely repurable sources (here is one from the Poison Control Center, for example) this myth persists.

In fact, I would have to say that it is second only to hydrangea questions for me. Again, if I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Oh, I can’t have a poinsettia, because I have a dog/cat/child,” I wouldn’t be posting about this, I would own a place on a warm sunny island where I would no longer worry about poinsettias or winter!

If fact, if you don’t want to believe the poison control center, perhaps you’d prefer what doctors at the Mayo Clinic have to say about poinsettias. Again, they can cause mild irritation, some stomach upset, a skin rash–but then again, so can any plant in the euphorbia family.

And as we know, lots of plants, such as the dreaded poison ivy, can do far worse to those susceptible to its oils.

So please, people, let us stop the craziness. And if you like these plants, please buy them and enjoy.