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Getting Poinsettias to Bloom Again

I’m not really sure who Hope Needham was, but Mom must have been a fan.  There are several clippings which she authored.  At first I was sure she was part of the Kitchen Klatter staff or maybe the Jessie’s Homemaker Radio Visit magazine.  The clippings don’t really resemble something that would have been clipped from Cappers Weekly or Grass & Grain.  These may have been an earlier publication.  You have to realize that Mom came to this country not knowing any English.  She learned the language when her kids started going to school.  So, to finally be able to read the language must have been quite an accomplishment.

I remember Mom trying to “save” a poinsettia and this must have been where she got the inspiration.  So, this clipping may be from the ‘50’s when I was in grade school.  Do any of you remember Hope Needham?  If so, maybe you could tell us a little more about her.

Scan of the clipping from Mom's Cookbook

Dear Mrs. Needham:

The art of getting poinsettias to bloom without a greenhouse is quite tricky and since our African Violets (130) take up considerable space and require a lower temperature, our poinsettias didn’t give us a nice show as usual this year.  We have had the same plants grow and bloom every year for 15 years or until they became too large to get into the house.

After the plants drop most of their leaves and flowers, usually about Feb. 1, I remove them to the basement where the temperature is about 44 to 60 degrees. The last of the leaves drop off and the plant becomes dormant.  Only water the ground enough to keep the stems from shriveling, usually one a month is sufficient.

About May 1, or when the weather outside is warm and danger of frost is past, I take all the plants upstairs, knock them from the pots, remove some of the old dirt and re-pot in larger containers.  The soil mixture I use is one=third well-rotted manure or a handful of commercial fertilizer, to two-thirds by measure of black soil with a small amount of sand to make the mixture porous.

The stems are not cut back several inches, making the cut at an outside leaf bud, so that the new growth grows to the outside and makes a more shapely plant. I usually cut away most of the previous year’s growth , or the plants would be monsters in just one year.  Water the newly planted poinsettias well, and in about two weeks new growth will start.

From now on never allow the soil to dry out, but keep the plants in the sun.

I have read that the plants can be sunk in the ground somewhere, but I  never tried it, but keep them where I see them every day and can keep the soil in the pots moist at all times.  Some hot days it is necessary to water them two or three times.

By September, or when night temperatures drop to 60 or 65 degrees, the new wood has grown to 20 or 24 inches, and I bring the plants into the sun room and put them in the  south windows to get as much sun as possible.  The temperature should be about 70 degrees from now on.  A draft on the plants or insufficient water will cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off.  By Thanksgiving the tips of the branches  will be showing color and the entire bract will be in color by Christmas. The color will appear quicker if the plants get no artificial light at night.


3 responses »

  1. I think Hope Needham may have been connected with the KMA Homemakers series. Do you remember the little white magazine Mom used to get, called “Homemakers” or something like that? She used to follow that family. I really didn’t know why she knew so much about the family. I think the “radio homemaker” she connected with was Jessie Young. Was Hope Needham part of that family? The paper for the “Homemakers” magazine was a little more sturdy than newsprint… That might be a clue for you.

    So, I googled Homemakers Shenandoah and found a little information. “Kitchen Klatter” was one of the “radio homemakers” who started with KMA and then seemed to have moved to another station. Mom was always loyal to KMA and Frank Field…

    Evelyn Kirkby has written a book called “Neighboring on the Air” which chronicles the story of the “radio homemakers.”

  2. I have a three copies of Jessie’s Homemaker Radio…Visit. One is dated September 1949, another September 1950 and the last one August 1961. They had recipes in them and ‘handiwork” patterns. I made a crocheted tablecloth from the pattern in the August 1961 issue which was name “Prairie Rose”. I started that tablecloth while in college, but it took me about 5 years to finish it. Eventually I got a table big enough to use it on, but I needed some more rows on it to fit the table. So I added rows on both the long and narrow sides. Mom had some curtain stretchers at some time, and I claimed them from the farm house. I stretched the tablecloth on those stretchers and dried them outside. Eventually, I just washed the tablecloth and let it be the size it wanted to be. When I gave the table to my daughter, I gave the tablecloth to my daughter-in-law in St. Louis. So, it’s still in the family.

  3. Hope Needham wrote a homemaker column in a newspaper called “The Chicago Daily Drover’s Journal”. My mother subscribed to the newspaper and cut out a lot of Hope Needham’s columns and recipes. I imagine that was in the 40’s and 50’s that I was acquainted with it. As far as I know, she had nothing to do with KMA or Jessie Young or any of those people. I know all of them, too. My mom loved collecting recipes and so do I!!


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