12/19/2006

How to care for your poinsettia


My Aunt sent me these poinsettia plants about a week ago. Then I got caught up with last-minute Christmas shopping and forgot about them, and they started to wilt. It happens to the best of us. But they're back to beautiful now. Yes, you can keep your poinsettia plants looking fresh till Christmas day and beyond. Just follow these few tips.

How often should I water my poinsettia?
The plant needs to stay moist. Check every other day or so, and when the soil starts to dry out, add water until it comes out the drainage hole.

Where should I place my poinsettia?
Like any other plant, your poinsettia needs light, and lots of it. Place near a South, West, or East window for best results. But not too close to the window! Keep in mind that cold drafts or touching a cold window can harm the plant.
My poinsettia is starting to wilt. Help!?!
If you've let the poinsettia dry out, water well and let the pot soak in a tray of water for a few hours, then remove to let the water drain. The plant should recover in about 24 hrs if it didn't reach the point of being crispy.
Five fun poinsettia facts:
1.The plant is native to Mexico and Central America.
2. Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia to the United States while serving as ambassador to Mexico. He was an avid botanist and a citizen of South Carolina.
3. There is no such thing as a naturally blue poinsettia. These are painted. However, plants like the "Monet" variety with splotches of pink/red/white are caused by special genetic mutations that have been propagated by growers.
4. The red "flowers" are actually modified leaves, called bracts. The actual flowers are the tiny yellow structures at the tip of the plant.
5. The poinsettia is in the genus Euphorbia, which also includes the crown of thorns. A common characteristic of this genus is the milky sap that seeps out when you break a leaf.

12/13/2006

Crafting and cooking with lavender

What to do when a lavender bush is threatening to take over your garden? With herbs, it seems like such a waste to just prune and compost. Most of the plants in my herb garden have some sort of purpose, like mint for my tea or chives for my potatoes, but lavender? It just smells good. I'm not really sure what to do with it but go outside and smell it a lot.

Now I learn you can bring that scent indoors! There are dozens of crafts out there, like making a lavender wand, as Annie in Austin recently mentioned. There's instructions on harvesting lavender and making lavender wands the Purple Haze lavender blog.

I found some recipes with lavender at Happy Valley, but I'm a little suspicious of lavender cinnamon buns. I can't really imagine that tasting good together, but I might be surprised.

If you have experience cooking and crafting with lavender, please share some ideas!

12/08/2006

Plants with tattoos

Why bother with a fortune cookie when you can sprout a bean to tell your fortune!

During my Christmas shopping, I became fascinated with the Message Bean.
Not that I need to have one; I want to figure out how they do this!
Do you think the factory is like a minature tattoo parlor for beans? Maybe they burn right through the seed coat with a little branding iron.
I think when my daughter gets bigger , we could start up our own bean tattoo parlor. I'm guessing I could soak the bean in water, remove the seed coat, and then print right on the cotyledons before planting the seed.
Botanical note: The cotyledons, the structure where the message is printed in the above picture, are the food storage organ for the developing seedling , and they eventually will dry up and fall off.