- Holidays and Celebrations
Poinsettias Red White Or Silk - THEY ARE GORGEOUS
HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT POINSETTIAS?
Poinsettias probably bring to mind those big "red flowers" that seem to be everywhere during the Christmas season. In reality, they are not flowers! There is so much more to learn about this interesting plant. For example, did you know that there are more than 100 varieties according to research completed at the University of Illinois?
IMAGE Poinsettias by Christopher Pelletier
My fascination with this gorgeous plant began several years ago when the Houston Chronicle featured a story on a poinsettia plant that had been growing outside for a few years. The plant was over six feet high, grown by a woman in her personal garden and had been started from a potted Christmas poinsettia. It was one of those moments when you say "if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes". That was about eight years ago, and I am still trying to get one to survive for more than a few months!
By the way, those "big red flowers" are not flowers. They are known as bracts, colored leaves. The very small yellow buds in the center of these leaves are the flowers. On 1825, poinsettias were introduced into the United States and are now commercially grown in all 50 states. The plants are native to Mexico. The man credited with bringing the poinsettia plant to the United States was Joel Roberts Poinsett, a Congressman. He was appointed as the first US Ambassador to Mexico. Mr. Poinsett had always had an interest in botany and gave Mexico the American elm tree. During walks through the Mexican countryside, he discovered a shrub with "big red flowers" (leaves). On his return to South Carolina, Poinsett took cuttings from this shrub and planted them in his greenhouse. Later, the beautiful plant was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett.
For a long time, it was thought that the poinsettia plant was poisonous; however, research has proven that poinsettia plants are not poisonous. However, there is a sap from the poinsettia plant that can be a skin irritant.
RED VELVET POINSETTIA WREATH
This gorgeous Red Velvet Poinsettia Wreath will last for years. If you're too busy to make a wreath, this Poinsettia Wreath is perfect.
MAKE YOUR OWN POINSETTIA WREATH
This is an easy to make poinsettia wreath. Using good quality silk poinsettias, you can make this wreath well in advance of the occasion. By using various colors and various shaped foam wreaths, they can be made and decorated for any special occasion: Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas, birthday, etc. For example, a heart shaped foam wreath with pink and white poinsettias would be perfect for Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. Use your creative imagination and you'll come up with all kinds of ideas!
YOU WILL NEED:
Bunches of silk poinsettias
Craft glue (no hot glue on foam)
Ribbons, bows, other decorations and adornments
I found foam wreaths in a variety of shapes: circular, circular with cross in the center, hearts, crosses, rectangular, and Christmas tree shaped.
MAKE YOUR WREATH
Detach each individual poinsettia flower from the bunches purchased. Dip the end of the flower into the craft glue. Place the flower onto the wreath, repeat until the wreath is covered with the flowers. Let it dry thoroughly. Add the ribbons, bows, or other special decorations and adornments appropriate for the occasion, i.e. new baby, Easter, birthday, etc. You can use the craft glue to attach the decorations to the wreath. Hang your wreath and enjoy the compliments.
TIPS FOR GROWING A POINSETTIA
CAN YOU GROW A POINSETTIA? YES, YOU CAN!
In my quest for information on how to grow poinsettias in an outside garden, it was interesting to find such diverse opinions on this topic. My conclusion was this: it is probably not a project for anyone easily discouraged but well worth the effort for those who enjoy a challenge. Poinsettias grown by Mother Nature can be as tall as ten feet; for me, that makes the challenge worthwhile.
Selection of the perfect potted poinsettia is the first step to success in this endeavor. Look for dark green foliage and completely colored bracts (leaves). Look for plants that are 2-1/2 times taller than the diameter of the pot. Find a plant that has not been in a crowded display. Look at the soil for any sign of root rot.
After you select the poinsettia and take it home, be sure it is wrapped properly. It should not be exposed, even briefly, to low temperatures. Carefully unwrap the plant and place it in indirect light. A daily dose of six hours of light is perfect. Be sure the poinsettia is not touching a cold window and is protected from warm or cold drafts. Daily temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees and 55 degrees at night are ideal.
Be sure you put holes in the bottom of the foil that wraps the plant. Place the plant on a saucer so the water can drain. The poinsettia should be checked daily. If the soil is dry, water the plant. You can apply a houseplant fertilizer when it is no longer in bloom and then continue to fertilize once a month.
Continue to care for the plant inside through March. In April, you can begin to decrease the water for a couple of weeks. Then move the plant to a location (inside) that stays around 60 degrees.
Whew! This is a lot of attention to one plant but remember the challenge!
Now, in the middle of May, you can cut the stems down to about 4 inches. With new potting soil, repot the plant in a larger pot. Give it a good drink of water and place the pot in a bright window with a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees. When the soil feels dry, water it. As soon as you see new growth, fertilize the plant with a complete fertilizer.
When there is no risk of frost, you are ready for the big move outdoors. Find a location that is in full or partial sunlight and protected from any strong wind.
About every two months the plant needs to be pruned. Because the sap from the plant may irritate the skin, be sure you wear rubber gloves.
And, that’s it! I have my fingers crossed for a healthy outdoor poinsettia.
LEGEND OF THE POINSETTIA
During my research to learn more about growing poinsettias outside in the garden, I stumbled on the Legend of the Poinsettia. Actually there were two or three versions but all very similar. One version is a paperback "The Legend of The Poinsettia" by Tomie dePaola, written for ages 5-9.
In a nutshell, the legend is about a poor little Mexican girl who didn't have a gift on Christmas Eve for the Baby Jesus. Before she entered the church, she grabbed an armful of weeds. She took the weeds into the church and, as the little girl prayed, the weeds burst into beautiful red flowers. The little girl's love for Baby Jesus had created a miracle.
This little book has a great message for everyone, young and old, no matter time of the year!
The Legend of the Poinsettia
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