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Plant poinsettias as mild-climate perennials

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While most commonly used as annual living bouquets decorating homes over the winter holidays, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is delightful when allowed to grow as it does in the wild, as a perennial. In the mild San Gabriel Valley climate, it matures in to small tropical tree, eventually capable of brushing against the eaves of a single story home.

If you didn't purchase poinsettias while the retail nurseries were carpeted in them, now is a good time to hunt for them on clearance.Besides the trade mark Santa- suit red, breeders have cultivated specimens with flower-like bracts to compliment every landscape: creamy white, lemony yellow; coral; mauve through maroon. The dominant color may scream for attention in saturated hues or whisper in splotched and splattered colors.

In weeks to come, leaves will drop, colors fade. Time to keep or compost. If you choose your plant to be a permanent addition to your garden, cut back the stems to 6 inches tall- being sure to leave on each limb at least two nubs. Then, pinch-back new growth every few weeks until the fall to encourage fullness of foliage.

The key to success of planting poinsettias in the landscape is location. Scout your garden to find a sheltered spot where winds will not wickedly whip and frost won’t bite at tender limbs. Amend the native clay soil so that needed moisture drains away before roots drown.

Growers go to extraordinary lengths to force blooming in December. Even running porch lights can disrupt the length of winter darkness poinsettias require to develop what the plant is revered for: vivacious color.

Grown as a perennial, the flower-like bracts will naturally grace the garden in mid-January; just in time for the season extending approximately from Martin Luther King Day through Valentines Day.

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