By Carol Mowdy Bond
BlueSTEM AgriLearning Center, located at 3232 N. Jesse Reno Street on the historic Fort Reno grounds near El Reno, is selling poinsettias as a fundraiser for the center.
Available in red, pink, or cinnamon color, the poinsettia plants are $10 each. Interested customers should call (405) 208-2468, and leave a message. Payments may be made using PayPal, cash, or check.
BlueSTEM’s educational director Ann Marshall said, “The poinsettias were planted in the greenhouse on the property. We started with just over 200 plants, and in one week we only have maybe 75 left, by selling them through social media.”
Gwen Harman is the prison vocational horticulture instructor at the Federal Correctional Institution, El Reno, located next to Fort Reno. Harman said to enjoy poinsettias, keep them in “part shade to full sun. Let the soil dry out, and then water fully. It’s best to bottom water. You put a tray underneath the plant and fill the tray with water, and let the soil soak it in from the bottom. The plant will look nice for a long time if taken care of properly. In fact ,the plant could keep growing. It’s not necessarily going to die unless you kill it. It’s a beautiful plant.”
“Poinsettias cannot survive winters in Oklahoma,” Harman said. “But they can survive outside sometimes in some areas, if properly cared for.”
Harman said, “We started these poinsettia plants from cuttings that came through a commercial vendor company. We grew them in our prison greenhouse as a community service project. We try to support our community, and I hope everyone enjoys them.”
Harman said, “Poinsettias are native to Mexico, and they grow in warm weather. They are actually a shrub, and horticulturists have bred them to get what we want, and to get different colors.”
What we consider to be colorful flower petals on the poinsettia plant are actually modified leaves. The leaves are bracts. The colorful bracts attract insects and will drop after pollination of the flower. The flower is actually the tiny yellow buds in the middle of the plant. The bracts change color depending on light exposure. Bracts may be red, creamy white, pink, green, and even bright orange.
Though not poisonous to human or animal health, people and animals should not eat or handle poinsettias. The plant has a sticky white sap that may cause a skin rash considered to be dermatitis.
You should wear gloves when working with the plant. And you should make sure to avoid contact with the eyes and mouth. Always wash tools well after working with the plant because the sap remains sticky.
The poinsettia can be grown as an attractive green plant, even after the holiday season. If you want to maintain your plant, the University of Minnesota Extension created a timeline of how to care for it beginning New Year’s Day and going all the way to the next holiday season. If you follow the instructions, you could possibly have a colorful poinsettia again when next year’s holiday season rolls around. The timeline, with details may be found at https://extension.umn.edu/houseplants/poinsettia.
As well, there are other web sites that give information on how to keep your poinsettia alive and healthy.