Christmas in August


Every year, the University of Rhode Island Master Gardeners grow pointsettias. They sell them in December, and the proceeds help fund their programs. The growers ship them free plugs, in return for which they carefully monitor each cultivar and supply the growers with detailed reports once the sale is over. It’s a plant trial, and an educational experience that most Master Gardeners enjoy. Many of the 65 varieties they grow are quite unusual and exotic.

Plants are measured weekly

Plants are measured weekly

Crews have been tending the “points” for several weeks already, and it is a bit strange to be  growing something so Christmasy in the summer. Even the names of the cultivars are wintry: “Polar Bear” and “Jingle.” Armed with light clothing and lots of drinking water, groups of Master Gardeners go to the greenhouse seven days a week. They water, they fluff the soil, they fertilize, they give calcium, they check for pests, they measure and document how each cultivar is growing – in other words they coddle the heck out of them until early December, when the crowds finally come to take them away.

The plants were pinched a few weeks ago – a necessary step unless you want just one scrawny colored bract per plant. They are nice and bushy now, and the parasitic wasps are working tirelessly (and selflessly) to control the fungus gnats.  I’ll file another dispatch from the greenhouse when they’re a little farther along. In the meantime, the photo below shows how they looked last year, just before the big sale.

Festive aren't they?

Festive, aren't they?


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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4 Responses to Christmas in August

  1. Tatyana says:

    Christmas? Is it time to think about it already! You are scaring me! But I like the last picture, nice!


  2. dirtynailz says:

    That’s why it’s so weird growing these plants in the summer!


  3. Teresa says:

    Christmas in summertime. Sounds good to me. I just love the red poinsettias all around my house in December. That was a very interesting post. I enjoyed reading it.


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