Monday, December 25, 2017

Poinsettias and a Few Other Things

Horticulture Hotline 12/25/17
  Bill Lamson-Scribner 

Little did Joel Poinsett know that when he brought the first Poinsettia back from Mexico that it would become the United States most popular “flowering plant”.  Joel Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was the first ambassador to Mexico.  In 1825 he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.  These plant sales top over 70 million each year.  The dollar value is much greater.  If you ever have a chance to visit a whole sale nursery while the Poinsettia crop is being grown, it is a site you will not forget! 

How can you force the Poinsettia to “bloom” before next Christmas? I have bloom and flowering in quotes, because Poinsettias are mainly grown because of its colorful bracts, not flowers.

After Christmas in the Lowcountry, you can put the plants outdoors as long as the weather is not going to get too cold. In the early days of “The Garden Clinic”, Lowcountry radio legend Dan Moon used to boast how he kicked his Poinsettia off his back porch by his A/C and how it grew into a monster Poinsettia. Poinsettias do not like to be in direct sunlight, so place them in a protected area. Some people like the garage. Filtered light is good.

To force the bracts to change color beginning in early October, keep the plant in total darkness for 14 hours straight.  After the 14 hours of darkness, the plant must receive 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily for 8-10 weeks.  Depending on the variety of Poinsettia you should see the bracts change color.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to place the plant in a dark room with a grow light and a timer. This way you don’t have to adjust your schedule to care for the plant.  My little secret is to support the local nurseries and buy new plants each year!

Unfortunately, this nice cool weather is bringing out the Large Patch in our turf.  Be sure to treat the areas before it goes into dormancy.  Now is also a good time to apply horticulture oil or Neem Oil for over-wintering insects. Neem oil will control certain fungi too. Winter weeds are visible now. Control them now while they are young and actively growing. Your results will be much better. 

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at