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Deck The Halls With
The Poinsettia (Euphorbia put
cherrima) is the most popular flow
ering Christmas plant in the United
States and a native to Mexico. The
ancient Aztecs cultivated and prized
?he wild predecessor (called
Cuetlaxochitle) to the modern-day
poinsettia and considered the plant
to be a symbol for purity. In addi
tion, dyes were produced from the
red bracts and medicines from the
plant s sap. | he story of the poinset
tia's rise from weed to the "Queen
of Christmas plants is an American
A southerner, Joel Roberts
Poinsett, from Greenville, S.C., is
credited with first observing the or
namental potential of the poinsettia.
While serving as ambassador to
Mexico in the 1820s, Poinsett sent
back plants back to friends in South
Carolina. The red bracts (leaves)
were attractive during the fall, and
the plant s popularity quickly grew.
Folks began to call this autumn
flowering plant "poinsetts plant"
which eventually was modified to
the common name "poinsettia".
If Poinsett is the grandfather to
the modem poinsettia. then Albert
Ecke is the father. Albert Ecke was a
southern Californian nurseryman
and floriculturist in the early 1900s.
Ecke and his son, Paul, grew and de
veloped the first commercial "cut
flower" poinsettia operation in
southern California at the turn of the
century. Paul continued the tradition
by conducting extensive research
and plant breeding to develop a
poinsettia cultivar that could be suc
cessfully grown and flowered in
The first poinsettias to be com
"Holiday Magic Spectacular,"
produced by I .and is St Company
Theatre of Magic of Philadelphia,
comes to Thalian Hall Monday, Dec.
19, for two shows
In a series of magical vignettes set
to holiday music, the winter sprites
of Landis & Company combine the
atre and large-scale illusion for spec
tacular effects: a huge rabbit shrinks
into a tiny bunny, a young girl floats
mid air from the tip of a broom, and
characters appear from thin air.
The company has performed at
the Brooklyn Academy of Music,
the Anitenbcrg Center in Philadel
phia and the John F Kennedy Cen
ter in Washington. D.C. They have
appeared on national television as
guests on "Christmas at the Pops"
with conductor John Williams and
the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Tickets for both the 3 p.m. and 7
p.m. shows arc S5 per person, with
discounts for members in Thalian
Hall. For reservations, call or visit
the Center Box Office at Thalian
Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington,
u ( ) s s
Mens/Ladies 26 and 24 in.
Piranha 20 in.
16 in. with training wheels
2 Main St. ? Sunset Beach
? New Baby
501 1 Northside Dr.
& Hwy 17 Bypass
P.O. Box 2647
Shallotte. NC 28459
Stale Farm Ida
mercially grown and sold for indoor
plants occurred in 1920. Now, ex
perts estimate that the 35 acres of
greenhouses at Ihe Paul Ecke Ranch
in Encinitas, Calif., produce the veg
etative cuttings that form the foun
dation for more than 90 percent of
all poinsettias produced in the
world. In the floriculture business,
Ecke is poinsettias.
Caring for the new poinsettia var
ieties is easier now than ever before.
The poinsettia thrives on a minimum
of six hours of bright, natural day
light. However, it may be desirable
to pull a light shade or sheer curtain
to difffise direct sun so to avoid fad
ing of the bright red bracts.
Maximum bloom life for the poin
settia can be obtained by carefully
managing the temperature around
the plant. Ideal conditions for main
taining poinsettia blooms should not
exceed 70 degrees during the day
nor fall below 65 degrees at night.
Maintaining soil moisture is also
very important. Poinsettias do best
with moist soil conditions, but plant
longevity is drastically reduced if
plants are allowed to dry out or
overwatered. Soil should be moist to
the touch with no excess water al
lowed to accumulate in the bottom
of the pot.
Plants that arc watered excessive
ly will slowly drop their leaves and
often contract severe root rot prob
lems. Rapid leaf drop is often
caused by chilling injury. This oc
curs to plants exposed to tempera
tures below 50 degrees.
Poinsettias are quickly killed by
even quick exposure to freezing
temperatures. Application of 114
strength soluble plant food in every
third or fourth watering will darken
the foliage color and encourage
healthy new growth.
Contrary to popular belief, the
poinsettia is NOT poisonous.
Researchers at Ohio State University
found that a 50-pound child would
have to ingest more than 5(X) bracts
to surpass experimental doses. Even
at this level, no human toxicity was
identified. Please note, the poinset
tia, like all ornamental plants, is not
intended for human or animal con
sumption, and I suspect that inges
tion of the plant would cause some
unusual digestive tract disturbances.
F.njoy your Cuetlaxochitle...uh.
poinsettia during this special time of
Send your gardening questions or
comments to the Plant Doctor, P.O.
Box 109, Bolivia NC 28422.
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