2009-12-04 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Commentary by Danielle, Danielle's Rockaway Florist

The poinsettia plant is a native of Mexico. There is an old tale that says that long ago, a poor Mexican boy was going to see the nativity in his local church, and wanted to bring something special to leave at the altar. He had no money, and looked on the streets along the way for a beautiful flower to give. He could only find leaves and stems on the roadway, so he chose a branch of greens. When the little boy left the stem at the nativity, hundreds of red flowers bloomed among the leaves, and the poinsettia plant became famously tied to Christmas. It has been used in decorations for centuries, and the tradition continues throughout the recent years. Many people believe that a poinsettia plant is poisonus to children and animals. With a little bit of research, I've learned that even though there are very small hints of toxins in the poinsettia, a child or pet will, at worst, get an upset stomach from eating the leaves or petals. For example, a study at Ohio State University shows that a 50-pound child would ha ve to eat more than 500 leaves to become seriously ill.

Of course, you should never allow your child or pet to consume any house plants, but singling out a poinsettia as being deadly if your pet decided to nibble on the leaves is not completely true.

Poinsettias are the most popular plant for the Christmas season, representing 85 percent of all plant sales. On average, 65,000,000 poinsettias are sold each year in the six-week period leading to Christmas and $220,000,000 dollars are made in this short time in the U.S. There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available varying in size and shape of its petals, and having a wide range of color. Of them all, 74 percent of Americans prefer red poinsettias, 8 percent prefer white, and 6 percent choose pink.

Poinsettias are commercially grown in all of the 50 states, while eighty percent of all poinsettias grown in the U.S. come from California. In fact, 90 percent of all poinsettia plants in the world are grown there and are exported from the U.S. Did you know that 80 percent of poinsettias are purchased by women, and 80 percent of people who purchase poinsettias are 40 and older.

In nature, poinsettia plants are pere - nnials, and can grow to be 10-feet tall. The showy, colorful part of the poinsettia are called bracts. Many people believe these bracts are petals, but they are actually the plants leaves that have changed color. The actual flower is the small cluster of buds at the center of the colorful leaves. Poinsettias should be kept away from direct sunlight and even further away from drafts. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy and try not to let them dry out between waterings.

Hope you enjoyed these fun facts about poinsettia plants. They are a pro minent part of our holiday decorations. We can hardly remember a home visited during the holidays that did not have one by the fireplace, in a hall, or even a small one on a side table. No matter the size or color, they really help to bring in the feeling that the holidays are here again.

You can visit us on the web at www.DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com to see past columns, or feel free to write to us at 436 Bach 129 Street with your gardening questions or tips for our rea - ders. Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Local Union Looking to

Take On 4 Apprentices

The United Service Workers Local Union #355 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee are taking applications for four steam fitter apprentice positions from December 2 2009, to December 1, 2010. Applications will be available at Local Union #355, 267 Knicker bocker Avenue, Bohemia, New York, from 4 to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month throughout the year.

Tree Lighting at 116 Street

Browns Hardware in coordination with the Chamber of Commerce are holding a tree lighting ceremony Fri - day, December 5, at 5:00 p.m. The Rockaway Theater Company will present holiday singing and hot chocolate and cookies will be provided by the Belle Harbor Steakhouse. The tree is located at 116 Street on the center mall across from the fire house.

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