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Living: Gardening Advice - VALUE FOR MONEY.

Byline: with HOWARD DRURY

TODAY'S Poinsettias are much shorter and much easier to grow than in years gone by.

They're also available in a wider range of colours and even if you're paying pounds 5 or more for a plant, it still represents good value if it lasts more than a fortnight or so.

That's only the cost of what a bunch of flowers would be - and at the end of a few days they'd be thrown away.

In fact, with a bit of luck, you can keep your Poinsettia from year to year.

During late April or May, it can be dried off slightly before being pruned down to just a few inches above the pot.

It should then be kept dry to allow the cut surfaces to dry off before the watering is increased again.

Bring it back into active growth in slight shade before putting it in a well-lit place for its summer holidays.

Coloured

Here, it should make plenty of vegetative growth before being treated to 14-hour nights from early September onwards for a minimum of eight weeks.

It's these long nights and short days which induce the coloured bracts to appear early enough for Christmas.

Otherwise, with our street lights and our strange British climate, most Poinsettias wouldn't naturally bract up until at least April or May.

Other than watering, your Poinsettia will need very little care and attention.

Half-strength general houseplant food can be used every 14 days and it's worth just keeping an eye open for the odd whitefly, which might try to increase its numbers on this very amenable host plant.

The Poinsettia should be an easy plant that will grace any home throughout the Christmas period and well into spring.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2000
Words:289
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