If you are spending this weekend looking for the perfect Christmas tree, check out the article on Merrifield Garden Center‘s website, “Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree,” by Michael Fahey. For video format, watch David Yost when he explained how to choose the perfect tree on an archived Merrifield television show (old timers here may remember that Merrifield used to have a Saturday morning television show on gardening). To select healthy poinsettia plants, watch Dr. David Clement, University of Maryland Extension specialist, describe what to look for and tips on taking care of this lovely euphorbia.
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.