I don’t rant about many things in this column. Being around plants and flowers and people is one of the best jobs in town and I have many blessings to be thankful for. But please, dear reader, bear with me for a moment while I get a bit Grinchy about one of the most overused and uninteresting (in my humble opinion) Christmas plants — the poinsettia.
It is not even their appearance that I have a grudge with (yes, red is very festive), or their bounty at the holiday season. I think it is the fact that in my mind they get muddled up with a bunch of other zone-challenged, mass-greenhouse-produced seasonal specialties that never fail to disappoint. And the fact that we have multitudes of interesting decorative plant material we can utilize that is a bit closer to home.
Like the potted hydrangeas that you see blooming out of season, or fall mums forced in greenhouses with millions of blooms and no real root structure, poinsettias fall prey to some of these same problems.
After your six weeks of enjoying them as a houseplant, well-intentioned gardeners from all over start researching online and calling in to garden expert Brian Minter with the same questions: “How do I overwinter my poinsettia,” or `”How do I transfer my hydrangea mum to rebloom in my garden.” The simple answer should be they don’t, and please just compost them when they are finished.
I know there will be excellent gardeners out there who are gnashing their teeth as I write this, proudly knowing that they have managed to get their poinsettia to rebloom. To you, I say congratulations and I admire your tenacity, but for the average gardener, this feat is too time consuming and picky to fit into our busy day-to-day lives.
What I would encourage you to do this holiday season is to step out of your poinsettia box. Make a beautiful indoor-outdoor planter with seasonal greens. Try a mixture of cedar (the yellow is great if you can find it), pine, spruce, fir. You will be amazed at the different colours and textures.
Try cutting it and sticking a variety of lengths into a water-soaked piece of oasis in a festive pot. Fresh-cut greens last a surprisingly long time and particularly if you have the ends in water. Find some red twig dogwood, holly berries or juniper to add a pop of colour. I swear you won’t even miss your poinsettia.