Poinsettia – Not my favorite holiday plant, but they do get a bum rap.

 Having worked at flower shop for many years in Toronto, I’ve had my fill of poinsettias. 
(Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Having said that, even though they’re not my favourite plant, (I’m more keen on other varieties in the euphorbia family), they do get a bum rap every holiday season.

Why the bad reputation?

Because contrary to popular opinion, Poinsettias can be irritating, but they’re not fatal.

Your pets & children might get a rash or an upset tummy if they eat a leaf, but it won’t kill them. That’s a fact. But I still don’t suggest eating them in any case!

I have other reasons for not liking them.  First of all they’re susceptible to white fly which is practically impossible to eradicate. The little buggers spread to other plants too, especially hibiscus, but that’s another story for another post.

They also wilt at the drop of a hat. A cold draft will knock them unconscious, so don’t place them near a front door or heat vent, even if they look good on your hall table. Put some greens and branches in a vase instead.

Also, they’re rarely watered properly – People kill with kindness. Waterlogged soil lacks sufficient air, which drowns roots. These plants, when exposed to high light and low humidity, require more frequent watering, but never water if the soil feels wet. Too much water will cause leaves to curl and fall off.

So in my humble opinion, the poor things never look as good as they do in the flower shop… Obviously I won’t be popular with any florists/growers out there, but that’s okay.

So, even though I don’t particularly like poinsettias, one does have to defend something one’s not exactly thrilled about when truth has been turned into a false myth.

Still keen on a poinsettia? Go for it! I wish you success!

However I’d suggest choosing an alternative plant for the holidays … azaleas and cyclamens are gorgeous this time of year. Succulents are perfect for any occasion, especially if you’re going away. They like to be neglected any time of year!

And, doesn’t it just feel good to go against the grain sometimes?


Happy Holidays!

How to grow, pollinate and harvest seeds from an amaryllis – It’s very easy to do!!

amaryllis-vittata-february-2015pistil-and-stigma-for-pollinating-the-amaryllis-karen-sloanPollinating and saving seeds from Amaryllis is very simple. All you need is a light touch.

Step 1: Collect some pollen, (gently), on your finger from the stamen. (see next photo)
Step 2: Dust it lightly on the stigma.
This should be done when the stigma (Pistil) is completely open.

Just a note: Some people use a paint brush to transfer the pollen, but this is not a requirement if you’re very gentle.

 

 

I don’t pollinate any flower with its own pollen. I’ll use the pollen from one flower to pollinate another .

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Unripe seed pod

This is a seed pod that develops not long after, from the pollinated flower that dies back.

Let it mature and turn brown. Then the seed head is ready to harvest.

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Seed pod is ready to harvest.

 

 

 

 

Many people ask me how to bring an Amaryllis  into bloom again…  Here’s my advice:

Don’t dig up your bulbs and stick them in the closet in the fall.  Don’t do it. It doesn’t happen that way in nature! Why anyone started promoting such fiction, I’ll never know.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how much this myth irritates me, and every year I see gardening articles perpetuating this falsehood, repeating it verbatim like parrots, likely by writers who haven’t actually accomplished what they’re proposing you to do..

Because of that, it’s no wonder so many people tell me they’ve given up growing these beauties and can’t get a bulb to re-flower the next year. Purely because something so simple has been made to seem so very complicated…. There’s my rant for today!

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Freshly harvested, plump amaryllis seeds

In any case, bulbs have an internal clock that works very well, with or without our help.

As long as the flower stalks are allowed to die back naturally after flowering, and there has been sufficient water, light and food over the course of the year, (I only give them a bit of very diluted coffee or tea once a month), then you have the secret to getting them to flower again.

amaryllis-wfsMy amaryllis is 130 years old.

It was my originally my great-great grandmother’s plant, a true heirloom, and I cherish it!

It blooms every year, and sometimes twice. I can tell you, it has NEVER seen the inside of a closet!

Treat it as you would any houseplant, all year long, but ease up on the watering in November.

Don’t let your plant completely dry out, but water it once per month until a flower bud starts to emerge. Then water every 10 days or so. After the flowers finish, let the stalks die back naturally. This is very important as this is what provides the bulb with the energy to produce a flower next year… 

If you don’t like the look of the plant while it’s in this semi-dormant state, put it in a room where it’s not so visible. Leaves will die back too, and watering should be lessened again ‘til  mid March when the sun gets higher in the sky, and you’ll see an abundance of new foliage. Water more often, as the cycle has begun again.

Amaryllis vittatum - Wall Flower Studio 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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