Poinsettia’s predicament

I want to know who is having luck with rejuvenating last year's poinsettia.

I want to know who is having luck with rejuvenating last year’s poinsettia. Personally, I have not had a lot of success. My mom on the other hand…

We are told it takes special attention to get a poinsettia to reproduce its brilliant-coloured bracts. Doug Green states on his website, http://beginner-gardening.com, “…not complicated but it does demand specific cultural controls with little room for error.”

Yikes! The last nine words are certainly intimidating. Not meant for the faint of heart. Not very encouraging for a beginner gardener which I assume is his target audience through his website.

It is generally known poinsettias need a period of darkness in order to trigger the “reblooming” of their bracts. With some variation, the rule is complete darkness for roughly 12 hours per day over a six-week period.

And it has to be complete darkness according to the experts. Even being exposed to “…headlights passing by…” is enough to upset the process.

After six weeks, the poinsettia then requires full sunlight. Where is that going to happen in this part of the world at this time of year? There is also the matter of correct temperature and humidity to be considered.

By the time one has read through all of Mr. Green’s recommendations they are likely running out to the nearest nursery to buy a new poinsettia for this year. Not picking on just Mr. Green…all of the experts proclaim this procedure in order to attain a stunning poinsettia from last year’s left over.

But wait! There is hope for us faint-hearted poinsettia rebloomers.

During a visit to my parents’ condo early in November I was doing my usual bit of fussing in their solarium. The “jungle” as my brother and sister are wont to call it. To my parents and me, it is the jewel that sets their condo apart.

Tucked underneath one of the huge jade plants in the solarium, almost hidden from sight by the multitude of overhanging branches, was last year’s poinsettia. And the top bracts were starting to turn red!

No special care. Truthfully.

This plant enjoyed the caress from a multitude of street light rays every night until the Venetian blinds were closed. And there were some nights when they weren’t closed at all because my parents were not home. So the plant certainly received substantially less than the regimented amount of darkness in this case.

Temperatures, too, were all over the map in the unheated solarium depending on what the outside weather was doing. On the coldest days the sliding door would not have even been open to the rest of the condo to garner the benefit of its heating system. And heaven knows if humidity even factored into the equation at all in this case.

Moral of this story…don’t worry about the correct light, temperature or humidity for last year’s poinsettia. Treat it with regular watering and fertilizing, throw in a bit of love and it just may produce its red bracts.

Given those few requirements are always met, a poinsettia is going to dance to its own drummer and do what it is meant to do at roughly the right time it is meant to do it. And with a minimum of fuss. Exactly what we need at this time of year!

• • •

Now…just for the birds…the grandkids and I had fun recently making pine cone feeders. It is the only time we feed the birds here, when there is snow on the ground. The preference is to leave them to scrounge around in the garden for weed seeds and bugs.

The kids and I mixed together one half cup each of shortening and peanut butter, plus a handful of oats. After tying a length of string to the top of each pine cone, we spread the mixture all over. Much like spreading peanut butter on a piece of toast.

Next, each cone was rolled in a pie plate filled with bird seed, making sure they were well coated in seed. And voila…a quick and simple bird feeder.

Merry Christmas from our garden to yours! Leslie, John and Molly.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her column appears every second Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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