In the very early days of “The Garden Clinic” Paul and I used to go on the Lowcountry radio legend Dan Moon’s WTMA Talk Show for 20 minutes on Wednesdays. Dan would boast about how he kicked his Poinsettia off his back porch by his A/C under a shrub and how it grew into a monster Poinsettia.
Of course Dan would tell this story with all the details (what kind of shoes he was wearing, how many times did the pot roll over before it fell off the porch, how high was the porch, what kind of A/C unit he had, how much soil came out of the pot …) − the way only Dan Moon could tell a story. Paul and I would get weekly updates on Dan’s Poinsettia. It was larger than life – typical Dan. Dan had the voice and that great ability to make everyone feel like a friend that he had known forever. Dan will be missed by many.
Poinsettias do not like to be in direct sunlight, so place them in a protected area (the reason Dan’s did so good under a shrub). Some people like the garage. Filtered light is good.
Little did Joel Poinsett know that when he brought the first Poinsettia back from Mexico that it would become the United States most popular “flowering plant.” Joel Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was the first ambassador to Mexico. In 1825 he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States. These plant sales top over $70 million each year. The dollar value is much greater. If you ever have a chance to visit a whole sale nursery while the Poinsettia crop is being grown, it is a sight you will not forget.
How can you force the Poinsettia to “bloom” before next Christmas? I have bloom and flowering in quotes, because Poinsettias are mainly grown because of its colorful bracts, not flowers.
After Christmas in the Lowcountry, you can put the plants outdoors as long as the weather is not going to get too cold. To force the bracts to change color beginning in early October, keep the plant in total darkness for 14 hours straight. After the 14 hours of darkness, the plant must receive 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily for 8-10 weeks. Depending on the variety of Poinsettia you should see the bracts change color. The easiest way to accomplish this is to place the plant in a dark room with a grow light and a timer. This way you don’t have to adjust your schedule to care for the plant. My little secret is to support the local nurseries and buy new plants each year.
Unfortunately, this nice cool weather is bringing out the Large Patch in our turf. Be sure to treat the areas before it goes into dormancy. Now is also a good time to apply horticulture oil or Neem Oil for over-wintering insects. Neem oil will control certain fungi too. Winter weeds are visible now. Control them now while they are young and actively growing. Your results will be much better. Moles? Is there an over/under bet on how many times I will be asked about moles this holiday season?
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