The Little Poinsettia That Could


About five years ago, my mom gave me a poinsettia plant for Christmas. I took it to my office, thinking I’d enjoy the color for a few weeks after the new year began. Golly, that little plant bloomed all the way into August that year. I couldn’t believe it. After it quit blooming, I kept it on my desk because the foliage was lovely. I pruned it regularly and it began to have the appearance of an overgrown bonsai tree.

The next year, Mom gave me another poinsettia plant which soon joined the first one on my desk. This one didn’t bloom as long but it grew like crazy. Eventually, I repotted the two of them into one pot. When I retired from the library, I took the pot home and stuck it in my upstairs guest bedroom, where it sat behind closed doors to keep the cats away from it. Eventually, the plants started to look sickly, losing leaves and wilting before they’d even fully opened. I decided they’d lived a good, long life but it was time to throw them out. However, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put my faithful friends in the trashcan. “OK,” I thought. “I’ll take the coward’s way out and set the pot outside. Let nature kill them for me.”


That summer, I watered the pot occasionally and was amazed to see that the poinsettia had stopped its downward spiral and was, in fact, thriving. It got bigger and bushier and those leaves filled in and took on a nice, healthy dark green hue. It was such a showstopper, that I moved the pot to my front steps. This was the hardiest little poinsettia that I’d ever seen. And one day, as I was walking past it, I noticed a bit of red. Sure enough, over the course of a week or two, darned if it didn’t get a few red flowers… late summer!


This autumn I had to decide what to do with it again. I decided that it wouldn’t survive a winter outside so I’d better bring it back indoors and up once more to the guest bedroom. By now, we were a catless household so there was no fear of cats eating the leaves but I still kept the door closed to that room just so we could keep it clean and free of dog hair. As we approached December, I noticed many of the leaves were getting a red tinge to them. “By golly, I think it’s going to bloom in time for Christmas,” I thought. And that is just what it did AND continues to do in March. The self-watering pot sprung a little leak so the whole plant is now sitting in our bathroom in the whirlpool that no one uses. That way, when I add water, it can leak until the water goes below the little hole in the flowerpot. Pretty soon the gardening shops in town should be selling these pots again and I’ll pick up one so that the poinsettia can be repotted and put back into the bedroom. The amazing thing is that I once sat through a seminar on how to get poinsettia plants to rebloom. Believe me, it is a very complicated procedure involving strict temperature controls and long periods of enforced darkness. Well hey, no one seems to have told my plant this. It has been near windows or outside, in normal temps and it still blooms and blooms.


Then again, it could be something special about my guestroom. I also have a gift plant in there that I received a year and a half ago that I was seriously thinking of ditching outside when it failed to thrive. However, I repotted it into one of those nifty self-watering pots and placed it upstairs next to my Christmas cactus plant. The Christmas cactus is turning into one huge plant that was filled with blooms over December. Then, lo and behold, this plant started blooming. It is still in bloom 3 months later. I have NEVER had a green thumb but for some reason, this particular end room with the two sides of windows, the self-watering pots, and my latest watering philosophy have all combined to give me much enjoyment from my houseplants. That “watering philosophy”? I water my plants once a week, no more, no less. They seem to like that schedule and it’s a routine I can remember and stick with. Happy gardening, everyone. Think Spring!


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