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Is it a pint-size poinsettia? Mexican fire plant.

Is it a pint-size poinsettia? Mexican fire plant

Avid gardeners pore over the season's new seed catalogs in January and compile wish-lists of new and untried varieties. Here's one you might want to look for.

Mexican fire plant (Euphorbia heterophylla) is a member of the huge euphorbia family, as is the popular poinsettia. Also called annual poinsettia or fire-on-the-mountain, Mexican fire plant is one of the few euphorbias grown as a summer annual.

Plants sprout easily from seed sown directly in the ground after frost in spring. Growing to a height of 2 to 3 feet, they make bright additions to mixed flower borders or to container plantings, where you can count on their show until frost nips them in fall. This unfussy plant is also a good choice for hot, dry locations.

Green leaves starred with bright red (sometimes pink, brown, or white) give the appearance of poinsettia, although they are smaller and less showy. Good for cutting, they last up to two weeks in indoor arrangements.

Once started, this easy annual will likely reappear year after year in the garden, since plants reseed freely. Two other benefits: they're not invasive, and they're easily pulled.

One mail-order source is Geo. W. Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647.

Photo: Similar leaves and markings make Mexican fire plant look like a pint-size poinsettia
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Date:Jan 1, 1985
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