Odds are you have a poinsettia in your home for the holidays. In the United States, poinsettias are grown in greenhouses and programmed to bloom in time for Christmas. Try to emulate the bright light and balmy 70 degrees the greenhouse has to offer in your home so your poinsettia will survive the holidays. Keep the soil moist but don’t let the roots sit in water and make sure the pot it came in has drainage holes. After the holidays, grow it as if it were a houseplant. With luck, you may be able to see colored bracts (the “flowers”) again next year. Keep the plant in bright light and 70 degree temperature. In the spring, cut the stems back about half the length and either keep indoors or put outdoors in the warm summer months. Apply a houseplant fertilizer and make sure the plant does not dry out. In June, transfer into a slightly bigger pot and in September bring the plant back indoors. To induce flowering, give the plant bright light each day and fourteen hours of uninterrupted dark each night beginning in early October (as in cover with a box or put in a closet). Keep the soil moist but stop fertilizing. The color should form on the bracts in six to eight weeks.
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Join me on Saturday, December 17, 2:30 -3:30 pm, at the Fairfax County Oakton Library where I will be talking about Holiday Herbs and Spices. This presentation is free and in person; register with the Oakton branch here. If you are interested in having me speak to your organization, please contact me. I enjoy talking about culinary herbs, edible flowers, and holiday herbs and spices. We continue the conversation in the Facebook group Culinary Herbs and Spices.
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