Archive for the ‘Poinsettias’ Category


It’s a question I often hear, and often answer as simply as I can, usually after asking a few questions.

  1. Is it an orchid that has just decided it doesn’t want to bloom in the next year or two???  (and you don’t care to wait!)
  2. Whatever kind of plant it is, is there anyone you know who might want to adopt your plant?
  3. Is the plant diseased or buggy?
  4. Are you willing to WORK on it, or are you DONE with it?

After we talk about those possibilities, we then go on to a possible solution.

#1-There are a few people here at Horizon House who will “adopt” spent orchids and bring them back to flower. What they do with them at that point is unknown!

#2-Would a neighbor, or family member like to have it?

#3-If it is diseased or buggy, it should go “down the shoot” into the garbage.  Put it in a plastic (or paper) bag and into the garbage.  It is neither recyclable, NOR compostable.

#4-If it’s just beyond your interest or appears to be dying a natural death, or you can’t find an adoptive “parent” for it, here’s what you can do.

If the plant is small, and in fairly good condition, put it on the shelf in the Service Room.  Perhaps someone on your floor will take a liking to it.  OR maybe the person who empties the trash may know someone who would like it.

If no one takes it…or it’s beyond help…

Allow the plant to dry out.  Take a large, PAPER grocery bag, dump the plant (with it’s soil) into the bag WITHOUT the pot.  Close up the bag and put it (carefully sealed) in the compost container in the Service Room on your floor.  If it is too large for that, bring it to the Potting Room on B-2 and put the bag into the compost container there.

Just so you know, this is perfect compost!  It is living (or having once been alive) material.  compost-handSoil is exactly what compost will become, and is a needed part of the composting process.

The pot remaining, if you don’t have a use for it, can be washed out, and put into the recycling bin.  If it’s a pretty one, consider Monday Market!


I hope this answers your questions.  Happy Gardening, inside or outside!!!


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Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

  • Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!
  • Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.IMG_7112
  • Check your stored bulbs to be sure they’re not being eaten by mice.
  • Remove bulbs to be forced, from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.images.duckduckgo
  • This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.
  • When your bulbs begin to sprout, give them a bit of fertilizer and scratch it into the soil.
  • If you want to get spring blooming plants, like creeping phlox, look for the ones in bloom so you’re sure to get the color you want!
  • Start seeds inside.
  • Begonias can be started directly in the garden.
  • Use maples as a guide.  When they start sending out leaves, the soil should be good for planting!
  • Don’t plant in mud!
  • Divide Perennials, and remember to water the new plantings if spring rains don’t materialize.
  • You can plant gladiola images.duckduckgoa few  every two weeks (up until July) to guarantee summer long bloom.
  • Once the soil has begun warming (remember the maples), get those veggie seeds & crops in the ground.
  • This is a good time to send in a soil sample for testing.
  • If you have a lawn, now would be the time to send the mower in for a tune-up.
  • Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.
  • Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to snip a few for inside forcing! (Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia.  Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!
  • Cut back woody perennials like artemesia, lavender and russian sage to about 6 inches from the ground.
  • Prune roses by removing old, damaged, diseased, and unproductive canes.  You can bring bush roses back to a foot or so tall, and shrub roses to three feet.img_2212
  • Talk about pruning shears…sharpen and clean them before using.

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We went to Molbak’s last week.  I got some tiny poinsettias, and then won a larger one at a Christmas Party we went to afterwards.  My window sill is a “groaning board” of poinsettias!IMG_7099

How about a little information about the “what & where” of poinsettias?  For instance what most of us tend to call the “flowers” are actually “bracts”. TIMG_7112he little yellow “things” in the center are actually the flowers.  Here’s


a rendScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 9.39.48 AMering of what a bract actually is!

The issue now is whether you have purchased those plants for Christmas color, or to keep forever.  They are inexpensive, and therefore easy to “buy and toss.”  I have NOT got the room to save them from year to year, and they are so inexpensive to purchase, I’d rather just let them fade, compost them and buy new next year.

At this point, I’m going to assume you fall into the latter category.  If you keep them from year to year, that is a whole different story…not to be answered in this blog, but try this link for more information from Clemson University Extension Service.

Anyway, when you get them home, be ready to have a very christmas-y house.  They are wonderful for that, aren’t they?  But what do you do with them to keep them looking good and being healthy for the time they live at your place?

First, look for a draft free, relatively sunny spot for them to be located.  They don’t like to have a frosty reception when the sun goes down.  They do need about 6 hours or so of indirect sunshine…  Unless you live in deepest Alaska, pretty much any relatively sunny spot will do!  Some spots in Horizon House are incredibly sunny.  If you have one of those units, aim for a table nearby.

Watering?  If you don’t keep the soil from totally drying out, the leaves will turn yellow, curl and drop off.  OUCH!  Disaster!

Every other day, I take mine to the kitchen sink and let them (in their plastic pot) sit in shallow, tepid water for 20 minutes or so.  Then I remove them, drain the water, put them back in their  pretty (no hole) container, and place them back on the sill.  That seems to work very well.  Most directions say to water every day.  I think if you see the leaves looking a bit “curly” get them into water, and do it daily.

It is normal for the lower leaves to finally turn yellow and drop, so don’t panic, just be sure the plant is not thirsty.

You shouldn’t need to fertilize them, unless you are going to attempt to keep them longer than the 6-8 weeks we hope for under usual circumstances.

If you keep them in the foil they usually come in, be sure to punch some holes in the bottom, so any water can drain.  NEVER let them sit in water and become soggy.  That’s a sure path to disaster.  I set the plastic pots into a prettier pot (with NO hole) to protect my furniture.  Although the foil is pretty, I usually remove it.  But that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.  Do what you think best for your circumstances!

Contrary to popular thought, the leaves are NOT poisonous.  So your pets should not be bothered.  However, the sap can sometimes cause an allergic reaction so be aware of that.

Poinsettias are named for Joel Poinsett, a botanist, who was also ambassador to Mexico.  He introduced the plant to the USA in 1825.  It is pronounced:  “poin·set·tee-ya”.

Good luck with your new acquisition.  Enjoy all the Holiday color and cheer!


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