Saturday, February 4, 2012

Summer Poinsettias

This past Christmas, I had placed a grouping of poinsettias around my tree.  After taking the decorations down, I didn't want to throw them away so I have been keeping them in my sunroom. Poinsettias are actually shrubs that are native to Mexico but will thrive in our area during the summer months. Each year, I cut the red leaves off  (yes, they are leaves, not flowers) and nurture them until spring and then I plant them in my yard.  They will grow into a beautiful shrub.  

What most people think are flowers, are actually leaves. The flowers are the little yellow things in the center.  Commercial growers will keep them in total darkness for about 12 hours a day beginning around October  This way, they can't make chlorophyll and will lose the green color in the leaves.  Each December I incorporate this as a lesson in my science class.  The students are always amazed when I tell them that the bright colors were always there but were masked by the green chlorophyll 

As you can see, there were already some new leaves growing.  They will need sunlight now so they can make chlorophyll so I will keep them in indirect light in my sunroom for a few months. When you cut them, there will be a milky sap and it can irritate your skin so wash your hands immediately.
Here is a picture of one that I grew in my yard last summer.  It thrived in our hot humid weather but it won't survive after the first frost.  
This is a picture that I took right after I transplanted it outside last summer and you see from the previous picture  that it grew a lot over the summer.
Another good thing about this plant, the deer won't touch it!  I'll keep you updated on how they are growing.  I am so ready for spring!

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