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Give Poinsettias a Chance

poinsettia turning

There are always plenty of leftover poinsettias at my church after Christmas. The unclaimed soon start to drop their leaves,  perhaps longing for a more suitable climate. They are destined for the trash if someone doesn’t take pity on them. Maybe some of the claimed ones end up in the trash, too, though I can hope for better.

When I see a living, potted plant in the trash, I feel sad. Does anyone else feel this way? It’s because of this sadness that  I no longer contribute to the annual poinsettia purchase. I used to buy one to be listed in the bulletin in honor or memory of a loved one, but have decided there are other ways to honor and remember.

I’ve taken a few leftover poinsettias to shut ins and try to take the worst plants home before they end up in the trash. Some are too far gone and end up as compost. But if they can make it through the winter as house plants, they thrive outside in warmer months.

The poinsettia above is one I rescued in the winter of 2017. It was not a happy camper in my little house which runneth over with spider plants, philodendron, peace lilies, and the seven foot tall avocado tree I drag inside every winter. So, in the spring, I decided to give this poinsettia a chance in the natural world. It took root and thrived in a semi-sheltered spot. In November, it started to turn red (without the prescribed 12 hours of darkness.) Now, I’ve got an old shower curtain draped around it. If it makes it through the winter, I will be pleasantly surprised since we have three inches of snow on the ground today and temps in the teens later this week- a rarity in these parts.  But hydrangeas and lilies die off and come back in the spring, and I had a poinsettia come back several years ago after a mild winter with no cover, so maybe….. Either way, it had a good spring, summer, and fall.

Below is a potted poinsettia, which loved being outside for most of the year. You can barely see the speck of red on a bottom leaf.

For more information about poinsettias, visit:



Spider Plants, Avocado Trees, and Critters who Belong Outside

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Post is brought to you by Linda G. Hill, author of

All Good Stories, “a romantic comedy with a twist.”

Soon it will be time to bring my outside plants inside. They are really indoor plants, but they like to be out in good weather which we have a lot of here. I just hope they don’t have spiders hiding in them when I bring them in.


For the past two days, I saw a small gecko/lizard/chameleon hopping around my avocado tree on the back deck. I’d rather not have to try to get these little critters outside because I’m always afraid I’ll hurt them. Except for the water bugs, aka Palmetto bugs. Not afraid to hurt them. Yet, they are living things too, so why…..

But back to he plants, because I don’t want to talk about bugs. I have so many spider plants (there I go again with spiders) which some people call airplane plants, though their babies do look like spiders, that I have planted some of them outside. They die off in the winter and come back in the spring. Once I had a poinsettia do that, but only once. Usually the winters here are too cold for a poinsettia to survive. But there was the time when I planted one from Christmas out in my backyard in the spring, and the next spring, a year later, I saw something red out in the yard and had no idea what it was. Lo and behold, it was the poinsettia I had planted a year earlier. It must have been a mild winter. I have one that’s doing very well in a pot outside, but I’ll probably bring that one in and put it in the dark in November to see it it will turn red.

I have two avocado trees in pots that I planted from pits. I’ve had them for many years and cut them back so they will fit in the house. They drop a lot of their leaves, even in the house, in the winter. I’ve been tired of lugging them back in and out of the house, since they like to be outside on mild winter days, so this year, I planted the leggier one outside in a semi sheltered area. I’m going to see it it will survive. I’ll probably cut it way back and cover it on freezing days like people do with banana trees around here. Who knows, with climate change/global warming, maybe I could grow avocados.

(Not saying climate change is good. It’s bad. And it’s real. But that’s another story.)


Today’s prompt was “in/out.” Linda directed us to “use one, use both, use ’em any way you’d like.”

Here are the SoCS rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


Tree-Hugger’s Confession

tree roots closer

First, the confession, inspired by Natalie Scarberry’s enchanting post on trees.

The fact that I am a tree-hugger, is not the confession. That’s something I’m proud of. The dilemma is what to do about the trees growing too close to the house. I waited several months for a hard freeze, hoping that maybe the trees would be sleeping and dormant, before removing several young trees growing right next to my father’s house. My husband couldn’t do it for me, because he was recovering from hernia surgery. My father is 84, and I wouldn’t want him to do it with his health challenges. We borrowed a tree-puller, an amazingly powerful, yet simple tool. Still some of the oak roots were deep and required considerable digging, clipping, and pulling.

It was dark by the time I finished the job. Even though the temperature had dipped below 40 degrees, I’d worked up  quite a sweat. Yet, the job was harder for me emotionally than it was physically, because I love trees. It was like those jobs I learned to set my jaw at back when I was single and had to do the hard things myself- or thought I did anyway.

I chopped up most of the saplings and seedlings, hoping they wouldn’t suffer so long that way. I decided to save the smallest sapling, a four foot pine, and two seedlings by wrapping them in a plastic bag and driving them home. They are doing okay in my kitchen, in a bucket of potting soil, until I plant them in my backyard – maybe Saturday if the weather feels right.

Along with the sapling, I’m collecting homeless poinsettias.

My church always has a lot of poinsettias leftover from Christmas Eve. Even after people have taken home the plants they want, there are usually 10 to 20 left unclaimed.

I worry that many poinsettias just get thrown in the trash after Christmas. The very least we can do is compost them. I’d heard poinsettias were poisonous, but have learned they’re not as toxic as I thought, according to this Mayo Clinic article.

Of the 15 or so poinsettias left behind at church, I brought the four worst looking plants home to compost, unless I can hold out until warm weather and plant them in the back yard. At least that way they have a chance. I left several other poinsettias (the ones with leaves still attached) at church with the plan to plant some in the church yard when winter is done.

Normally, outdoor poinsettias do not survive the winter here in the Carolinas, but anything is possible. One spring, I noticed something bright red along the fence in my backyard. I had no idea what it could be. When I got closer, I realized it was a poinsettia I had planted the previous spring and forgotten about. That winter must have been a mild one, or the poinsettia was a tough one.

Maybe I’ll pot one or two poinsettias and keep them inside, like the three year old below. I’d heard that if you keep an older poinsettia in the dark for about a month it will turn red. I put the one in the photo in our church utility closet for about two weeks in November. When I brought it out, tiny new leaves were light red. All the new growth since then has been a pinkish-red. Like magic!


This three year old poinsettia bloomed red leaves when it came out of the closet.

I wonder if we will be able to use any of last year’s poinsettias for Christmas Eve of 2016!