Plants linked with Christ­mas

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - Prob­lems? Ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmer­ston North 357 0606). Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz. Web­site: gar­de­news.co.nz

Mistle­toe myths

Mistle­toe had pa­gan beginnings. If you met some­one of the op­po­site sex un­der the mistle­toe you were to kiss. In the 18th cen­tury, the ex­chang­ing of kisses be­tween a man and a woman was adopted as a prom­ise to marry. At Christ­mas a young lady stand­ing un­der a ball of mistle­toe can­not refuse to be kissed.

has to gain en­ergy from the sun for the fol­low­ing year’s flow­er­ing.Short stems leav­ing am­ple leaves be­hind will en­sure rea­son­able flow­er­ing the fol­low­ing year.Or only cut one third of the flow­ers each year, so the other two thirds have a couple of years to re­cover.To grow in pots, buy three plants and a large con­tainer al­low­ing room to ex­pand. Pot them up us­ing good qual­ity pur­chased com­post with Rok Solid and sheep ma­nure pel­lets un­der the plants. Leave out­side where they will get a few hours of sun­light each day and keep the mix moist. As the buds start to open bring the tub in­doors and place on a large saucer or tray for catching ex­cess wa­ter. Po­si­tion in front of a morn­ing or af­ter­noon sun win­dow. The tub can be moved for dis­play when guests are due and later put back into the bet­ter light. Once flow­er­ing is fin­ished take the tub out­side and place in a shel­tered shady spot for a few days to har­den up. Then into a full sun area till next Xmas. Re-pot ev­ery three years. Oc­ca­sion­ally, wa­ter in Ma­trix with MBL added.

Poin­set­tia (Euphor­bia pul­cher­rima )is an­other Xmas fa­vorite.

The red bracts (leaves) are not the flow­ers; the flow­ers are those in­signif­i­cant berry look­ing things in their midst. Later th­ese will fall off un­less fer­tilised/pol­li­nated.

Poin­st­tias need good light so make sure they spend most of the time within a me­tre of a sunny win­dow. Don’t over wa­ter. Bought plants are treated with a dwarf­ing com­pound to make them squat. As this wears off they be­come taller and scrag­gier. Planted out­doors in a frost free, sunny, free drain­ing sit­u­a­tion, they can grow about as tall as a house with an ex­cel­lent dis­play of red leaves in win­ter. Flow­er­ing is about light con­trol; eight hours of good light and 16 hours of dark­ness for a couple of weeks or un­til the top leaves start to turn red. In a room with­out bright lights in win­ter they will flower with­out any help.

PHOTO: FAIR­FAX NZ

Poin­set­tia in all its glo­ri­ous Christ­mas liv­ery, show­ing the ac­tual flow­ers in the mid­dle of the leaf clus­ter or bract.

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