Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson, Laurey W. Glenn
This season, nurseries and supermarkets are overflowing with poinsettias in pots—but they don't have to stay contained. The secret to using them in displays is searing the cut stems with a candle flame to stop the flow of sap and prevent flowers from drooping.
Winter Rose is the best series for cutting and holds up for more than two weeks if seared correctly. Other long-lasting ones are 'Strawberries N' Cream,' 'Marble,' 'Cortez Burgundy,' 'Sonora White Glitter,' and 'Carousel.'
How To Make a Poinsettia Tree
For the tree shown in the picture, we used an English ivy topiary, an ice bucket, three poinsettias in 8-inch pots, sharp snips, matches, a pillar candle, and about two dozen florist water tubes. To create a poinsettia tree, refer to the illustration and follow these instructions: First, cut the larger blooms, leaving about 6 inches of stem. Sear them quickly to stop sap from dripping out. Sap should bubble under the candle flame, and the ends of the stems will turn black. You may also need to sear the points where larger leaves were removed along the stems. Insert each seared stem into a water-filled florist tube. Stems are hollow and will absorb water after being seared. Place the stems into the base of the ivy topiary.
Then repeat this process with the medium-size and smaller poinsettia blooms, cutting the stems so they're about 4 inches long. Insert blossoms into the topiary, working your way toward the top. Once it's complete, care is simple—just add water to the tubes every few days, as needed.