Favorite Flora: Poinsettias

Perpetual poinsettias not for me

Suntory’s new poinsettia collection, “Princettia”, in four new colors

By Michael Leach

Every year the question arises: How can I get my poinsettia to bloom again. And I wonder why?

For the price of a bland burger, greasy fries and sugary soda, you can buy a spectacular plant. No work needed. Best of all, a fresh poinsettia isn’t fattening or artery clogging.

Please take note, I use this only as illustration. Poinsettias, like many beautiful plants, aren’t meant for eating. A good rule of thumb on edible plants: If  you can’t find a recipe in a reliable source, don’t eat them. Even experienced mushrooms hunters make mistakes, occasionally fatal.

But back to cultivating poinsettias. After flowers fade, about Mother’s Day, poinsettias will add valuable material to the compost pile. Can’t say that about fast food.

Yet people are compelled to nurture a poinsettia for the ages. You don’t and here’s why.

Brain surgery is only slightly more demanding than tricking a poinsettia into flowering. The process is best left to greenhouse growers and masochistic amateurs.

Should you succeed, you’ll probably be disappointed. I was. So are other gardeners I know who did the voodoo only to find the results less than enchanting.

After weeks of moving the plant in and out of the dark for the prescribed periods to produce the bracts, those colorful leaves we think of as flowers, flecks of red began to appear. Just barely. Instead of eye-popping red blooms at Christmas, I had diminutive flowers all out of scale with the lush greenery.

Instead of putting it on display, I relegated the plant to the compost pile. Next I bought a brilliant example of commercial greenhouse magic to enliven the season.

One response to “Favorite Flora: Poinsettias

  1. One garden center is offering an alternative to poinsettias — hellebores ‘Jacob’. See http://www.foertmeyerandsons.com/helloborus-jacob-christmas-rose/ .

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