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There will be a program about dealing with the bedbug problem that is sweeping the world on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Extension Office. The meeting is free and open to the general public but due to invited audience we ask all that might attend to RSVP to the Extension Office at 732-7030 so we make sure we have enough handouts and seats.
The Real Dish on Poinsettias
Traditional red and green colors are well represented in the flowers available for the holidays. Poinsettias, the most popular and spectacular holiday flower, can combine both these colors.
The poinsettia was named for Joel Robert Poinsett, an amateur botanist and the first United States ambassador to Mexico. He became fascinated with these native plants and sent poinsettias home to Greenville, S. C. in 1825.
Although Poinsett later was war secretary under President Martin Van Buren, he is better known for the plant named after him.
The Aztecs cultivated poinsettias for medicinal purposes and as a dye. Missionaries to Mexico used the brightly colored plants in nativity processions, possibly beginning the holiday connection that continues today.
Poinsettias are the most popular potted plant grown in the United States, with annual sales exceeding 70 million plants. In Kentucky, some tobacco greenhouse operators have learned how to grow poinsettias. More than 60 varieties are produced and sold in Kentucky. Approximately 500,000 plants are grown here annually.
The three to six bloom red poinsettia is the most frequently used, but several other sizes, shapes and colors are available. Colors range from creamy white to yellow through shades of pink to the traditional red. The colorful plant parts often referred to as “flowers” actually are modified leaves called “bracts.” The yellow centers are really the “flowers.” Some poinsettias have marbled pink and white bracts; others may have pink flecks on red. Poinsettia bracts are very long lasting, providing a nice decorative plant for the holiday season.
Some people have skin sensitivity to the white milky sap produced when a part of the plant is broken or injured. Ingesting a plant part may cause some discomfort. Active young children, who are apt to put just about anything in their mouths, and curious cats might choke on fibrous poinsettia foliage. Therefore it is a good practice to put poinsettias and all other non-edible plants out of children’s and pets’ reach.
Poinsettias will remain beautiful far beyond the holiday season when cared for properly. Keep these tips in mind.
•Choose a plant with small, tightly clustered yellow buds in the center and crisp, bright, undamaged foliage.
•At home, put the poinsettia in a room with bright, natural light. Ideally, plant foliage should be exposed to direct sunlight one or more hours daily.
•Avoid locations where there are drafts and close heat sources. Do not put the plant on top of a television set or near a radiator.
•Water the plant when the soil becomes dry; drooping leaves may indicate it needs watering. Be sure to discard excess water in the drip saucer.
•If you want to keep a poinsettia after the holiday season, fertilize it with ordinary houseplant fertilizer a few weeks after buying it.
How much do you really read?
I am offering a prize for reading this week. The News-Democrat has revised their website and I have a chance to blog on their site. If you read this and then go to www.mycarrollnews.com and then read my recent blog posting you will find some questions to research. It will take you about 5 minutes to find the answers and the first person to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the correct answers will get one free soil sample (who knows, you might even get me to come and pull the sample). Correct answers will be in my Dec. 8 article.
Tim Hendrick is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call him at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to email@example.com.