A Poinsettia is just for Christmas

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Top Tip

Put Cymbidium in the garden from May until October. When you bring them back inside they will start to form new flower spikes.

Do you get annoyed by the loss of seasonal food?

For me, asparagus should be grown either in your garden or the Vale of Evesham, and only be available for a few weeks each year after 'Asparagus Day' on April 23rd.

As the world, quite rightly, considers both the impact and need for shipping food around the globe, I hope we will begin to see a more seasonal offering in supermarkets. You are, after all, quite capable of growing food all year round in just the smallest of spaces - pop in to the garden centre and browse the array of seeds on offer and you'll see what I mean.

Turning to plants, fortunately many are still only available at certain times of the year. Poinsettias are one such plant. They appear in garden centres in November and are only available until Christmas - I like that! Whilst breeders have worked hard to find better colours, stronger plants, and even speckled varieties with great success, the growers have avoided the temptation to produce them over a longer period.

When it comes to Poinsettias, perhaps the most frequently asked question is, "how do I make it go red again next year?"

The honest answer?

"Don't bother; a Poinsettia is just for one Christmas."

Turning them red, pink, white, speckled, or even yellow is very difficult - it requires set periods of light and dark and heat regulation.  Trying to replicate this at home is nigh on impossible, so let it go after Christmas and look forward to this seasonal treat reappearing in the garden centre next year.

Poinsettias are such incredibly good value that I have no issue with saying they should be composted once the colour has gone, although a healthy green one is also very attractive.

There are plants that will go on to give you a second season after Christmas; all types of orchids, for example, can be persuaded to re-flower. Phalaenopsis left to go dry after the original flowers have faded will soon throw up new spikes. Cymbidiums, a favourite at Christmas, will only re-flower at the same time each year. A 'Top Tip' for them, given to me by the biggest grower in Holland no less: put them in the garden from May until October. When you bring them in they will start to form new flower spikes.

Azaleas are a top gift at Christmas but do try to keep them in the cooler parts of the house or they will flower too quickly and the pleasure will be short-lived. In the spring, you can plant them outside.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and 2023. This will be my last article of the year but you can hear me on BBC Radio Oxford each month; my next appearance will be just after 9am on Sunday 11th December.

Oh, last thing - the new garden! Well it has been a month of unpacking boxes and watching the garden. The winter jasmine has thrown a cloud of yellow flowers up and the berried cotoneaster is looking superb.

More watching and waiting before I spring into action in the spring!

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