Friday, January 14, 2011

There's a poinsettia in the middle of my veggies

This year, I was able to participate in a charming Christmas ritual which I have neglected since living in Honduras - the traditional killing of the poinsettia plant.

Before Christmas, I happened to see a lady in town carrying around about a dozen plants to sell. It was an interesting and healthy-looking collection of flowers, including a geranium, some snap dragons, and one poinsettia plant.

Well, I haven't had a Christmas poinsettia in years and years - which is sort of odd, when you consider that they are native to Central America. In a rush of Christmas spirit, I bought that plant, even though my experience with plants in general, and poinsettias specifically, hasn't been encouraging.

I put the plant in an antique crock on my kitchen counter, and watched it change from a healthy plant to a less healthy plant, to an eyesore. The demise was slow, but steady, accelerating when David, unbeknownst to me, watered the plant with enough water to drown the poor thing.

When all the craziness of Christmas was behind us, I looked at what was left of my plant. All of the green leaves were gone, but two sets of red (are those leaves, or flowers?) were left.

I started putting the plant outside for part of each day, as I knew one reason for its decline was not getting enough light in the kitchen. Gradually the plant showed some will-to-live, and I needed to put it somewhere safe, where it wouldn't get scorched by the very bright sun we had in early January, where I wouldn't just forget about it and finish it off with neglect, where the dogs and cows couldn't get to it, etc. The only location I could come up with was the vegetable garden.

There was a spot in the garden where I had planted some lettuce seeds saved from last year, and nothing ever came up. So, I plunked down the poinsettia there, amongst my other types of lettuce plants.

It is now putting out new leaves! Hurrah! I may have started a new ritual - the resurrection of the Christmas poinsettia! Sounds more like an Easter tradition, but I'll take what I can get. When the plant gets bigger, I'll have to move it to a more appropriate location, as poinsettias can grow to be a large shrub here, and I don't think I'll be wanting a large shrub in amongst my lettuces.

And that's the story of why there's a poinsettia plant in my vegetable garden.


Laurie Matherne said...

Good for you. New traditions for a new year. My mother in the Gulf South used to like to plant a Christmas poinsetia after the New year. Usually she had great results, b/c the area is zoned subtropical. Most years it survived months if not a full year until an occasional near freeze would kill it. Enjoy your plant among the veggies!

Beth said...

The low 20's last week almost wiped out my poinsettias which I forgot(!) to bring in when I covered my other plants. I've never had great luck with them either.
The garden looks great!