December has arrived and it’s time to decorate your homes for Christmas. Here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes in Poway, the Christmas trees are being decorated and the Christmas lights are shining bright outside the houses.

Nothing says Happy Holidays more than the most popular worldwide Christmas plant- Poinsettias.

The Ecke family, of North County San Diego, has done more for the world of poinsettias than any other breeding operation around. Whatever variety you choose-red, pink, ivory or white, it probably came from the extensive breeding program of three generation of Eckes.

After coming out of my Thanksgiving Day food coma, I head to Weidners Gardens in Encinitas, CA. The founder and dear friend of mine, Evelyn Weidner, is always there to greet me and show off their fantastic array of poinsettias. I find the variety and quality of plants there to be exceptional. Not only are their poinsettias top notch for the holidays, you have to grab some cyclamen for your home as well.

I loaded up with Chianti Red, Monet Early, Freedom White and my favorite, Tapestry poinsettias. Tapestry is a classic red poinsettia with brilliant variegated leaves. Stunning!

Most people, yours truly included, usually just display the poinsettias on the mantle or by the tree, give them a shot of water once in a while then toss them out with the tree after the holidays. With a little better care, you can make them last longer and even grow for them for the next year.

Here are some vital and helpful tips from Evelyn, to be successful with your poinsettias.

The most important part in getting more life out of your poinsettias is WATERING!  These beauties like to be kept moist at all times. Check the moisture of the soil and water if they feel somewhat dry to the touch. When in doubt- give them a shot. Poinsettias in small pots might need water every day. Drying out in warm rooms will lead to yellowish leaves. Never let your plants sit in water due to root rot. If the pot has a wrapper, get rid of it.

PLACEMENT of your plants is also critical. Poinsettias prefer a bright spot out of the hot sun. Experts don’t recommend putting them outside due to possible frost or heat damage due to Santa Ana conditions. Be careful if you display them outside.

During the holidays, it is not necessary to FERTILIZE your poinsettias. You can feed them lightly after the holiday season.

Follow these tips if you want to keep your poinsettias growing until NEXT YEAR.

On St. Patrick’s Day, deadhead the blooms leaving four to six leaf nodes on the stem. As soil temperatures increase in the spring, plant your poinsettias in an outside area with sunlight half of the day. Water and fertilize them regularly with a well- balanced fertilizer.

Sometime in May, you should start to see new growth. If you want to keep them short and bushy, pinch them back on July 4th and again on Labor Day.

To get them to bloom again next year at the right time, they need 12-14 hours of complete darkness to start the process. By the first day of autumn in late September, we have darkness outside for twelve hours of the night. Temperature and artificial lights can also have an impact on blooming. Cover the plant or put it in the closet each night for extra hours of darkness if you want to get it to bloom earlier. Don’t forget to uncover it or move it to the sunlight in the morning or it will die!  Continue this process for about 9 weeks until you notice the bracts starting to color.

So try these tips to get the most life from this beautiful holiday plant and I highly recommend making a trip to Weidners Gardens in Encinitas. Evelyn is always there to greet you and show you the vast array of poinsettias and tons of other plants for your home or garden. You will find their staff to be very cordial, helpful and extremely knowledgeable. They are located at 695 Normandy Rd. Encinitas CA. 760-436-2194, www.weidners.com

If you ever find yourself in the Poway area or want to make a trip to tour our organic gardens, greenhouse and homes at Sunshine Care, feel free to give me a call or email me—

Roy Wilburn, Horticulture Manager

858-472-6059 or roy@sunshinecare.com

To get a better feel for what we offer at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes, such as events and our free monthly garden lectures, please check out our website-www.sunshinecare.com

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!!

Categories: Horticulture

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