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A Gardener’s Diary: Pointers for saving poinsettias

Vernon gardening pro offers tips to keeping the Christmas plant around for months, or even years
(Andy Mabbett) Poinsettias are among a holiday favourite.

Jocelyn Sewell

A Gardener’s Diary

Every year I get phone calls from readers wanting to keep their poinsettias after the Christmas season.

I haven’t done it lately but at one time I had three plants of different shades and kept them blooming every year for five years. You can learn more with the following link:

For those of you who want to save your poinsettias for another year, protect plants from temperatures under 50 degrees Farenheit (10 Celsius). Chilling causes the leaves to drop. Place plants in a room where there is sufficient natural light. Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright indirect light to thrive. Never allow them to sit in water and only water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep the plant from touching cold windows. Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers or open doors and windows.

Ideally poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60-70 F (16-21 C) and night time temperatures around 55 F (13 C). High temperatures will shorten the plant’s life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible. Check the soil daily. Water plants thoroughly after purchase. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer and discard excess water.

Water when soil is dry. Wilted plants will tend to drop bracts sooner. Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom. With good care, a poinsettia will last six to eight weeks in your home. With a little extra care, it is possible to keep your poinsettia year round and have it bloom the following Christmas.

On a cold day purchase the poinsettia at the end of the shopping trip and wrap the plant and pot in paper for the trip home. Even a slight chill can cause leaves to drop later on. Unwrap the plant as soon as you get home and place it in bright light, away from cold and hot air drafts.

My latest project for next spring is to build a hugelkultur bed. If you have lots of space, it might be a good project for a corner of your garden. So far I have all the branches, leaves, grass clippings and compost for a good start. Hugelkulturs are no-dig raised beds with a difference. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximise surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. The following links have good descriptions and how to build one.

There should be a good supply of leaves in the spring. My apple tree still has all its leaves. Driving around the area, I see a lot of trees that didn’t drop their leaves in the fall.

My tulips and hyacinths got planted on Nov. 23 between a few days of frost, snow and thawing. Hoping to see them up in spring.

Here’s hoping everyone had a beautiful and peaceful Christmas. It might be a very difficult season for many people. Let us not forget the least fortunate. The Salvation Army and the Upper Room Mission are there to support some persons with needs but can only do it through the charity of others.

All the best for 2023 with health and happiness. May you have love and peace in your heart.

For more information: 250-558-4556

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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