Friday, December 11, 2009

Poinsettia Information

Happy Holidays!

If you are like me, I always get poinsettia plants given to me as gifts each year. Some years my house starts to look like a poinsettia forest but they are lovely plants. I had had white, pink, spotted, red, and maroon poinsettias and they all have lovely characteristics.

I just read this article and thought it was really interesting. It also gives tips on how to care for your poinsettia once you take it home....which is good information because I have been known to kill a poinsettia...or 10!

So, here is some handy dandy information from the Texas A&M Agrilife News

Poinsettia Death Trip
Most consumers kill their poinsettias with neglect in about two weeks
After East Texas growers take great pains to produce beautiful poinsettias, plants free of diseases and pests that could live for years, most consumers will take the plants home and kill them within a couple of weeks due to improper care, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts.
"Poinsettias are not poisonous. That's an urban myth," said Dr. Karl Steddom, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist. "But from a poinsettia's viewpoint, most consumers are lethal. Consumers don't mean to kill the plants. They just don't know how to take care of them."

Each year, East Texas plant nurseries will produce several million poinsettias in 6-inch pots for the holiday season, according to Steddom.

"Color Spot Nurseries in Troup alone will market more than a million poinsettias this year," said Dr. Scott Ludwig, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist. "And that's only one of many nurseries in Cherokee County."

Both Ludwig and Steddom, who are based at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, work closely with the ornamental plant growers in northeast Texas, whose sales total more than $500 million annually, they said.

East Texas growers may start work with holiday season poinsettias as early as June or as late as August, Ludwig said.

"It's complicated, as some may start with pre-rooted cuttings, others may purchase unrooted cuttings and root their own, and still others may grow their own poinsettia root stock plants and take cuttings from them to root," he said.

Because of labor costs and the need of dedicated facilities, the more common method is to start with cuttings which are usually imported. The cuttings usually come pre-rooted in "Oasis Cubes," a small block of foam similar to that used by floral designers to hold flower arrangements. The cubes are sterile and can be saturated with water, but drain well.

Keeping the growth medium as clean as possible is important, because poinsettias can be host to a multitude of plant diseases, including molds, foliar diseases, blights and root rot. None of the diseases are of any risk to human health, but they can reduce the attractiveness of the plant, Steddom said.

The cubes are planted into growth medium, most commonly in 6-inch pots. Again, to limit soil-borne diseases, clean potting soil is used.

Insects can be a problem, particularly whiteflies, but not if growers keep a close eye on their crop and take prophylactic measures, Ludwig said

Another growing demand involves "black-clothing." The time which poinsettias bloom is determined by daylight hours. Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where changes in daylight cause them to turn from green to bright red right before Christmas, Ludwig said.

"We say 'bloom' but that's actually a misnomer, because it's the leaves that change color, not the bloom," Ludwig said. "But in most of the U.S., growers have to cover their greenhouses in light opaque shrouding to cause the plants to change color in time for the holiday season."

Growers will typically black cloth in stages, timing the operation so that some poinsettias change color by November for Thanksgiving, then at other times for various shipping periods up to Christmas, Ludwig said.

Of all the plant diseases to which poinsettias are susceptible, pythium root rot is probably the most common, Steddom said.

"Every year, some producers have at least small losses to pythium root rot," Steddom said. "The pythium organism can be found everywhere, but it is encouraged by over-watering and poor drainage," Steddom said.

Proper watering methods are essential. And as the disease is water borne, so growers have to take precautions about the disease being transmitted from one pot to the other by drainage.

Pythium root rot is also the most common scourge of poinsettias in the home, Steddom said. The slick holiday paper wrapped around pots prevents drainage. On top of that, consumers are prone to over-watering the plants.

"If they want to keep their poinsettias alive, remove the wrapper as soon as possible," Steddom said. "And don't over-water. Simply stick your finger in the soil and if it feels damp, don't water it. If you let the pot sit in standing water for any length of time, you'll probably kill the plant."

Steddom said they can put the holiday wrapper back on after they let the pot drain.

"Except in South Texas, where poinsettias might survive in an outdoor landscape, to keep the plants alive, consumers are going to have to give them lots of light andkeep a close eye on soil moisture levels," Ludwig said.

Poinsettias can be made to re-bloom for the next Christmas season, but it's an arduous chore, Ludwig said.

The plants need about 14 hours of darkness alternated with 10 hours of bright light for eight to 10 weeks, he said. Even a few hours of too much light will scuttle the process. The temperature has to be regulated too.

"Most people will kill the plant trying to get it to re-bloom," Ludwig said. "Considering all the work that goes into commercially grown poinsettias and the low cost consumers pay for them, it's easier to just compost them and buy a new plant the next holiday season."

By: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191 Contact(s): Dr. Karl Steddom, 903-834-6191, sk-steddom@tamu.eduDr. Scott Ludwig, 903-834-6191,


I was at a party the other day and they had this fabulous wassail was one Heavenly elixir and I love wassail! I asked the hostess and this is her secret. She puts this in apple cider and thows in an apple with cloves pushed in it and lets it stew for hours. It was really wonderful and I am rushing to my nearest Hallmark store to find some! She said its $3.95 for the box.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Reading for Christmas: For I am Mary


Last night at church we had a fun evening called Christmas Around the Ward. We went to 3 church menebers houses and had little spiritual Christmas thoughts at all of them and sang songs then ended and had refreshments. It was a lovely evening.

One of the ladies in our church did a reading called "For I am Mary" that was lovely. She was dressed as Mary and recited these words and the group of ladies attending sang the Christmas Songs listed in between her prose. I thought I would share it with you because it was such a nicely done program.

For I am Mary
And I am woman -- like unto other women. Divine in that we are all divine. A child of God. A servant of God, but chosen of God above all women . . .

For I am Mary -- chosen of God. My soul in agony with too great an honor. My heart torn with inadequacy. And from afar the voices of Angles ring out, and the voice of Heaven seems to say. " Adore Him, worship Him, attend Him well, for he is Mine."

And in my heart already, I see Him, and in my mind's eye, I imagine this small wee mite, and so think I as thoughts press hard. "Ah, if but to love -- What joy is mine. What grace that I might have Him, and teach the things I know from Thee -- that He is Thine." Again I recall the awful moment when I knew, that I, lowly and fleshly mortal, should become thy handmaiden, and I shudder with the weight of unknown responsibility, that, what no mere woman could ever aspire to, should come, unsought, to me. Praises, my Lord, that of all the regal personages in high positions, Thou hast chosen me. My heart breaks in wonderment and humility. Blessed by Thy Lamb.

And Joseph, dear Joseph, by my side as the little gray animal toils his way, laboriously, for I am heavy -- heavy in body and heavy in the knowledge of the precious burden within me. Ah, I am tired, and Joseph again slows the beast. It is getting late. Is that village, faint but real, to be our destination, or is it just a glimmer of hope in the distance. Lord, dear Lord, my hand and heart grow weary. Surely the time is near.

Song: Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem. Verses 1 and 3

The inn is full -- no room at the inn. I heard the words he told Joseph and my heartaches as I hear my Joseph beg. Ah, is there no place this night, that might make ready to receive the Savior. Men so eager for earthly things, so careless for their soul. O, that I might say, "The Son of God is about to come forth among men. Lay open your best houses, lay out your silks and spices. Anoint His little body with precious oils. Fall in worship before him. Make ready to receive the Savior of Mankind." But I am Mary, I am silent. I am not the Lord's messenger. I await the will of the Lord. We come at last to the stable. We, Joseph and I, are grateful. The hay is sweet, the air is soft, the light is alive, for He is come.

Song: Away In a Manger Verse 1

Behold the Lamb of God, that but for Him would the world be plunged in death. That, but for Him, would sin be unforgiving, and hopeless be our day. Arise and countenance Him, and hope and solace know. The Lamb of God is come to awake our soul, and I am full to break with wondrous love. It seemed I saw shepherds in the hills, poor and untaught -- yet blessed beyond the value of men. For the Angles appeared and brought glad tidings while yet we slept.

Song: The Chorus of Far Far Away on Judea's Plains

And the Shepherds come and stood in wonder and awe -- silent and ever watchful. There is light in the stable, but not the light of men. The eternal light that shelters and protects and keeps man warm. This is the light that shines for them -- for the shepherds come down from the hills. The smallest Shepherd reaches out his hand and for a moment, I see glory in his eyes, and I know he will never feel cold again. They drop to their knees. Little one, they know. They are a witness unto this hour. They of all the hundreds unaware, know that Thou art the Christ.

Song: The First Noel Verse 1

Little one, Thou art His Son, but Thou art my babe. Thou art the world's hope, but my joy. Thou art the soul's savior, but my heart. My arms ache with desire to shield from Thee, all the hurts that be. Sleep in the shelter of my arms, Nestle deep into my breast. Feel the love I shelter Thee. Sleep my little one while night is nigh. Rest thy head upon my arm -- it pillows thee. Clasp Thy hand around my finger -- it anchors Thee. Sleep my little one. Rest upon the fragrant hay -- symbol of humility. Lullaby -- Lullaby. Close thy eyes, I'll watch for thee, and safely keep, till it be day.

Song: The Virgins Lullabye - soloist

Days have passed, but the wonder of this dear sweet babe is close to me. The world is strangely quite. Bells ring not, nor do people sing praises to the most High. Life seems placid enough, but underneath the sham of civilized man -- evil persists. I see still the torment and pangs of the starved, the ill and the weak. Is there no where on earth that there was light at His birth. The Shepherds -- true. But they have come and gone. Have they forgotten? Ah, who knocks? Come. Surely thou art kings! What precious gifts you have and for whom? Of course, for Him -- For the King of all Kings. And the Lord gave light unto the Kings far to the East who are wise unto fulfillment -- and they have come. They kneel in their robes of silk, and the room is heavy with the delicate perfume of the East. Thank thee, oh Lord, another witness unto His Birth.

Song: We Three Kings Verse 1

And now my son, Thee have growing to do and strength to gather, and deeds and words, and work for Thou art given that man might live. Already the sorrow of eternal woman is mine. To bear, to care, to relinquish. Give me, Oh Lord that I might succor Him, May I bathe His baby bruises. May I ease His childish ills. May I give comfort and peace and offer a refuge of love for all His days. Oh Lord, let men remember this life He gives for them. Let them ever hear anew, and turn not away. Strange that man might fail to praise and worship Thee when Thou art near. Awake, Man, thy deliverer is come. A message He brings to a world full of trouble. To a world of sorrow, he brings joy, And where there is hate, love, Where there is indifference, compassion, Where there is darkness, light, Where there is doubt, truth. Where there is man there is salvation, and all this to every man the Christ is born because God so loved the world.

Song: Silent Night

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!