Retired Greenhouse grower and horticulturist, Bob Mullen grew 25,000 poinsettias for numerous years when he owned and operated Prairie Lily Greenhouses, in Regina, SK. His years of hard work led to him winning multiple awards for his poinsettias, including winning Agribition's Grand Aggregrate award.
Mullen began his horticultural career in Weyburn when he owned and operated B&B Gardens located 15 miles south of Weyburn, on Highway 35.
"When you get the poinsettia home, the real pretty sleeve that's on it, throw it in the garbage can, because when you water it, that water stays in the bottom...what happens is it sours then that water creates a fungus, that fungus gets into the roots and the plant dies," explained Mullen. "Put it in a saucer or something, so after you water it you can take that water and throw it down the sink."
"They like good lighting, they hate drafts," said Mullen, "If they get a rush a cold air on them, a few times, all the leaves are going to fall off."
To keep your poinsettia healthy there's a process called Leaching that Mullen recommends doing every two months.
"Put it in the sink where it can drain, give it a real good shot of water until a little bit runs through, and then you leave it for an hour or so and then you do it again," explained Mullen, "What it's doing is taking out all the old salts that the plant can't use, that cleans it out."
"Now for the third watering you mix up your batch of fertilizer," continued Mullen. "Now it's got nice clean water and a brand new meal."
Mullen explained that the two of the main reasons plants die are because they aren't getting the Leaching and they get root diseases.
"You can get a fungicide from a good garden centre and you should give your poinsettia a shot of that every two or three months whether it needs it or not," directed Mullen.
To get your plant to flower, Mullen explained that the poinsettia is on a clock of its own, professional growers do not have to provide any specific shading, the normal short days of winter will get the plant to turn red. However, in your home, other measures need to be taken.
"In your home, you have lights on and it doesn't take much light to throw it off so it becomes a bit of a chore," said Mullen,
"Starting about mid-September you have to put it in a closet or someplace where it will not see any light until the morning when you bring it out, and it won't take too long and you will see the bracts starting to turn red," continued Mullen.
There's an old saying in the horticultural industry, "Once they're pregnant, they're pregnant," said Mullen. "Once there's good colour starting on the leaves, then you don't have to put it in the closet anymore.
"Fertilize it fairly well in the fall because it's using a lot of energy to grow those nice big red leaves," explained Mullen.
Through the years, Mullen became an expert horticulturist even growing poinsettia trees, which grew to approximately 5 feet tall. He closed the doors on Prairie Lily Greenhouses in, 2000.