The familiar red poinsettias, which are a favorite flower for the holiday season, every year grow well in this area – given the proper care.
The bright-red petals are actually leaves in the top of the plant; they surround the actual flowers, which are yellow or green and accent the center of the display. Natives of Mexico, they bloom in late December in the semi-tropical climate.
They can be grown here after the holidays by simply planting the individual plants in the ground, after making sure the soil is rich but has a lot of sand in it – and be sure to keep the soil fairly moist. This works well sometimes but fails sometimes, too.
However, the most pleasure comes from making cuttings from branches of the mother plant and rooting them in pots. The soil should be rich potting soil mixed with clean sand and kelp slightly moist. They thrive in high heat and humidity, but they need dark nights in the late fall for nearly two months for flower bracts to develop. Remember, not every cutting will survive, but many will do well.
It is a true delight to grow your own plants to be given as gifts that will be happily received. Have fun!
The Sarasota Garden Club is at 1131 Boulevard of the Arts. Visit SarasotaGardenClub.org.
Submitted by Jan Johannesen