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Ecke Poinsettias

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Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

We are fortunate to have as our guest this morning, Paul Ecke III. He is the CEO of Ecke Poinsettias and has spent his life in the poinsettia industry his family founded.

At Christmas, living plants are always an appropriate gift. The poinsettia, sold only at Christmas time, is the second most popular indoor plant grown in America. Poinsettias have become the Christmas flower and thousands of these plants are produced each year in greenhouses throughout the country.

Poinsettia plants have a rich tradition associated with Christmas. They grow wild in Mexico and were first brought to the attention of the people of the United States by Joel Robert Poinsett, our first ambassador to Mexico. In addition to being an ambassador, he was an avid botanist and sent cuttings home to his greenhouse. Cuttings that Poinsett shared with friends spread throughout the United States.

These interesting plants bloomed at Christmas because of the day length. In their native Mexico, they gained their association with Christmas because they were one of the few plants that bloomed in winter and were used in processions of the Holy Nativity.

Poinsettias bloom in late fall because they are a short day plant. They must have long, uninterrupted night periods to produce flowers.

Modern day poinsettia growers are beneficiaries of a poinsettia growing ideas conceived by the Ecke family in Southern California. Ecke’s propagates and ships more poinsettias starts than any other company in the world. Plant breeders have produced vast improvements in color and growth habits in the traditional red poinsettias, and developed white, pink, and multicolored poinsettias. Make certain you do not overwater their poinsettias and keep them in containers that have drainage out the bottom of the pot. It is usually a goods idea to perforate the foil wrapper or to pour the excess water out of the bottom of the wrapper each time you water. Letting the plants stand in water are a certain too induce root rot problems.

Keep the plants in bright light and away from hot or cold drafts. To prolong the bright colors, keep the temperature around 72 degrees in the day but do not let is drop below 60 degrees at night. Under good conditions, poinsettias remain attractive and in full color for months. When the leaves lose their color and drop, cut the stems back to eight inches and let the plants grow as foliage plant.

While poinsettias are not intended for human consumption, the widespread myth that they are poisonous is untrue. According to the American Medical Association, no serious injuries or deaths have ever been reported from poinsettias.

Poinsettias look best when displayed under natural or incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lights, especially cool white shades make the colors less vibrant.

Poinsettias are no longer just a short-lived plant for Christmas Day but will last for many months if watered as necessary, given a bright, sunny area to grow in, and protected from heat and cold. The highly colored bracts or leaves will stay on the plant for months. They can be rebloomed with time and effort but most people do not consider it to be worth the nuisance.

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