Posts tagged poinsettia

Perfect Poinsettias

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

My friend Ken used to say the only good poinsettia is a red poinsettia.    Did you know that:

o   Almost 75% of Americans still prefer red poinsettias over other colors.

o   Poinsettias were introduced into the U.S by Joel Poinsett, our first ambassador to Mexico, in 1825.

o   December 12th is National Poinsettia Day.

o   Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

o   More than 60 million poinsettias, worth more than $200 million, are sold each holiday season.

o   Poinsettias are the most popular flowering potted plant, even though most are sold in a six-week period before Christmas.

o   The showy colored parts of the poinsettia are called bracts and are technically leaves.

o   Poinsettias are not poisonous.

How do you pick the perfect poinsettia? 

o   Healthy plants have a full complement of dark green leaves that are free of brown edges.

o   The bracts should be fully colored and not damaged. 

o   Check the true flowers in the center of the bracts.  They should be greenish-yellow and sometimes have pollen.

o   Wrap the plant carefully to carry it home to prevent injury from cold temperatures outdoors.

o   Place the plant in a bright, well-lit location, away from drafts.  Ideal temperatures are 60-70F daytime, 55-60F at night.  

o   Water thoroughly when the surface soil dries out, but pour excess water out of the saucer.  

o   Wait to fertilize until early spring.

So, enjoy the poinsettias in your favorite holiday color scheme as they are now also available in pink, white, peach, plum, yellow, cranberry, marbled, spotted and can even be dyed blue!

 

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Fresh trees

The following is by Claire Smith, Linn County Master Gardener:

 

Years ago when pizza delivery was first invented, we invited another family for pizza.   We ate, and then we adults moved to the living room.  At that time, the kitchen heat source in this old house was a Ben Franklin stove.  The kids decided that they would clean up for us (a pleasant surprise!)  Several minutes later, we sensed a smell only describable as HOT.  Running into the kitchen, we discovered the kids had shoved the empty pizza boxes into the stove.  The grease had heated the chimney to a vivid red.  Yes, Virginia, vivid red!  Needless to say we were extremely lucky to have a house left to celebrate the upcoming Holidays! 

It’s getting that time of year for kids to nestle in their beds and think of Sugar Plums and numerous other Holiday pleasures.  It’s also time for families to remember one of the most important items about the holidays that we seldom consider.   Safety!  

Use “live” greenery wisely.  Be certain the garland draped on the mantle is secured adequately.  Evergreens burn like tinder.  Flames flare out of control sending sparks flying into the room and igniting creosote deposits in the chimney. 

The same holds true for those beautiful candles that you place so strategically in the evergreen centerpiece.  Do not leave lit candles unattended. 

Create a family tradition and cut down a live tree at a tree farm.  Fresh trees stay greener longer.  Fresh needles will stay on branches longer and don’t break when bent.   Trim away low branches that will impede the tree from being secured in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep water in the stand while the tree is indoors.  Place the tree away from any heat source:  think fire as well as drying out the tree.  If you do purchase a tree from a store or organization, cut an additional two inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood to provide better water absorption. 

For those of you using artificial trees, look for a statement stating the tree is fire resistant prior to purchasing it.  And never, never use electric lights on metallic trees.

Pet and kid proof your trees.  Thin guy-wires can secure trees to walls or ceilings and prevent curious little hands and paws from pulling or knocking   trees around.  Avoid use of extension cords.  A child or pet tangled in an extension cord could cause utter disaster in your home.

Christmas Cactus, Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly Berries or any other Christmas plant may cause illness in kids and pets if ingested. 

My husband used to say, “Slow down.  You move too fast.”  I’ve learned.  I took my lesson from the Christmas morning when I thought I could dry one more load of clothes before the extended family arrived and started a mischievous kitten on the ride of his life in the dryer.  Fortunately, I knew the thumping wasn’t normal and immediately rescued a very dizzy, but otherwise o.k. feline.  Common sense is the best plan.  Use it!

 

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