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Monday, December 15, 2008

The 411 to Help Avoid the 911 (psst....Gollum....this is for you too)



Who here has a Poinsettia in their house right now? Can I see a show of hands? I thought so....did you get one from the Greenhouse Diaries lady? lol If you have not seen this blog...run! there are photos of my dream greenhouse there...and LOTS of poinsettias!

I have some tips for all you plant lovers....

First, let's do away with two myths.
First: Poinsettias are NOT poisonous. Although you wouldn't want to eat one, you can feel safe in their presence. Feel better now? Please do not go out and eat one on purpose though...you could have a tummy ache!
Second: What we enjoy on poinsettias are not the flowers, but the brightly colored bracts. The bracts are actually modified leaves. The true flowers are those wimpy little knobs in the center of the bracts. So when we talk about "bract color" just think "flowers." Did you know that? I did..lol

I also learned something while making this post...Poinsettia is the correct spelling....not POINTsettia! (yes I am naturally a blonde!)
So...now that we have that out of the way...lets talk about how to keep that pretty leaved Non -poisonous plant alive for the holidays! woo hoo! plant talk....lets get busy!

LISTEN UP GOLLUM!!!!! LOL
-Make sure you give your Poinsettia plenty of light to keep it strong and healthy and growing.
An east facing window is a good idea.
-They like a normal room temp. Too warm and your plant will age very fast (too warm would be over 80F) Too cold - such as a cold draft from a window or open and closing door will do damage as well- don't forget to use that plastic sleeve when you transport them from the car to the house if temperatures are below 50F!
-Watering is essential to any plant, but you should only water when the soil feels dry to the touch, BEFORE the plant is wilting (that was for Gollum). Do NOT allow the plant to sit in water for more than 30 minutes if you water from below...or if the water runs out of the pot...this will cause root rot to set in and your lovely holiday plant will be dead before you can say Merry Christmas! (again Gollum...are you here?). When Watering....watch the decorative foil wraps or plastic pot covers that come with many poinsettias -- these wraps often trap excess water( and some will leak and ruin your furniture or floor). (that was for me) lol

I had a question in my comment box about Christmas Cactus...so here is the best I can do to help....I admit...I am not an expert on this plant..if you want a succulent expert go to this blog. It is called A Succulent Life I am willing to bet...that ALL of your questions will be answered by our sweet Julie if I can't help you here!

Okay..enough of that...lets get to business!
-These Cacti bloom in white, pink, red, purple, violet, and yellow. Their flowers will last up to a month! This plant will bloom year after year, as if on a schedule, just in time for Christmas - which is how they got their name! Their cousins bloom each year at Thanksgiving or Easter time. These succulent plants can life for many years- decades even-, and become hand me downs between families and friends.
BUT HOW DO WE CARE FOR THEM?

-Provide bright, indirect light, and high humidity (putting it on top of a forced air vent is not a good idea-I know...I have done my fair share of "decorating" in spite of the plant).
-Allow the soil to dry between watering- but don't wait for the plant to collapse!
(I water and feed weekly in the summer "Fertilizer Friday misses no plant here")
-Cut back on food in fall. Move plants to a cool (60-65 degrees F) room where plants get at least 12 hours of darkness every night until buds form. OR- if you are like me...wing it...and it will bloom when it is good and ready! I always seem to have blooms at different times of year...I don't have time to move plants around...especially if it looks really good in that certain spot!
So there you have it...my holiday plant knowledge (with a little help from a book or two....lol)
No 911 necessary!

Oh yea...I never have a poinsettia anymore....I am a pro at murdering them almost immediately! That is just so insulting to me to have a healthy plant die within hours of my touch...that I gave up! My dad has a huge one that he does nothing in particular to...and it is about 5 years old! go figure!