Christmas Means Poinsettias & Fresh Evergreens!

Christmas is only 20 days or just under three weeks in our future.  You have probably already started your Christmas shopping and decorations.  You may have already been to a Christmas party or broken out your Christmas sweaters and ties.  In the horticultural world nothing says Christmas, like poinsettias.  We often decorate our kitchen tables, living rooms, offices, businesses and churches with poinsettias to help establish a festive environment to celebrate the joy of Christmas.  There are many other winter potted plants that add color and excitement to our inside spaces to help celebrate the holidays like cyclamen, cineraria, calceolaria, kalanchoe, pot mums, amaryllis and paper white narcissus but none say Christmas like poinsettias.  Poinsettias are available in hundreds of varieties and many colors.  Red is by far the most common and most traditional but there are also white, pink, orange and speckled or multicolored poinsettia varieties to add diversity and interest to your interior decorating.  The real flowers are not very exciting and are actually at the center of the colored leaves or bracts which most folks think are the flower.  The bracts are upper leaves that turn colors with short day lengths and provide the colorful “flowers” people expect from poinsettias.

Poinsettias are commercially available across Oklahoma from small pixie style four inch pots up to large size plants in fourteen and sixteen inch pots.  The most common sizes are grown in six, seven, and eight inch diameter pots.  Some growers also raise poinsettias in hanging baskets or in combination pots with other foliage or flowering plants.  Modern poinsettias are grown in two main styles, as pinched plants where one plant is pinched during production and produces three to five side shoots, each with a separate bract to top each branch or single stem style where there is one larger set of bracts at the top of each stem.  The fanciest and most costly poinsettias will be three to five single stem poinsettias in a single pot with the larger bracts on the top of each stem.  When I was growing up poinsettias were often three to five feet tall and would only stay in prime color for two or three weeks.  The new varieties are naturally shorter and respond well to growth regulators and are more tolerant of cooler temperatures than the older varieties.

Breeding improvements have given us poinsettia varieties that are not only shorter, easier to handle and give us more decorating options but the bracts will often stay colorful even up into March or April of the following year with a little basic care.  Poinsettias are relatively heavy drinkers, for a houseplant, so water them well when their soil is dry to the touch, usually every five to ten days depending on the pot size, plant size, vent locations and temperature you keep the room.  They do not like to stand in water so make certain the pots can drain and are not standing in a pot cover holding water.

The more light poinsettias get from a window or even nearby household lights the better they will hold-up and the longer they will add to and extend your holiday cheer.  We regularly enjoy the poinsettias in our home from early December, through Christmas and even past Valentines and St. Patrick’s Day.

Don’t forget the joy and scents of adding fresh evergreens to your Christmas décor as swags, rope or wreathes.  It is still hard to beat a cut or live Christmas tree and many folks decorate Norfolk Island pines or small spruces for extra ornament displays and holiday decorations.

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