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Christmas Poinsettias

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December 10, 2013
Poinsettias are the traditional flowering plant associated with the Christmas season. Today I'm visiting Vesley's Nursery in Sumrall getting ready for the holidays. The brightly colored plants come in a variety of colors and patterns. However, what most people call the "flowers" are actually modified leaves called bracts. The true flowers are the yellow/green bead-like structures called cyathia. Here at Vesley's the primary varieties being grown are Freedom and Prestige, in both red and white. These are popular varieties as they will color up in response to natural changes in the day length. This means growers don't have to pull shade cloth to artificially change the day length and trick the plants. The Freedom series has bracts displaying rich and full colors. These are compact growing plants with good branching habits. Prestige poinsettias also have nicely colored bracts plus the foliage tends to be a darker green and a nice background for the color. Also being grown are some bicolors like my personal favorite Ice Punch with striking red bracts with white centers. When choosing the perfect poinsettia always consider form and proportion with the container. A good rule is the plant being 2 ½ times taller than the diameter of the container. Another tip is selecting plants with unopened or only partially opening cyathia. In their native Mexico the bright red flowers of poinsettia are known as Flores de la Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, as they bloom each year during the Christmas season. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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