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Victorian nurtures 5-foot, 6-inch poinsettia plant

By Carolina Astrain
Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:18 a.m.
Updated Dec. 19, 2012 at 6:19 a.m.

Susan Rushford stands next to the giant poinsettia she planted in her yard about three years ago when it was smaller. Rushford stands about about 5 feet 6 inches tall and the tallest part of the plant reaches just above her head.

DID YOU KNOW?

Poinsettias are Aztec shrubs, named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the Holy Night flower to his home in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1828.

SOURCE: The University of Illinois

What started out as an unassuming gift from a neighbor, has brought a brush of regional celebrity to Susan Rushford.

Wearing a light mint shirt inside her 1950-styled home, Rushford admits to having no green thumb.

"I'm not a gardener," Rushford said. "I just watered it every now and again."

But the almost 6-foot tall poinsettia plant outside her northeast Victoria home would indicate otherwise.

The holiday shrub - usually seen potted or in vases - has attracted neighbors from down the street to give house guests a peek at their own community's wonder of the world.

Poinsettias - or Euphorbia pulcherrima as horticulture geeks know it - is a small tree with green leaves that turn red in the wintertime, commonly mistaken for flowers.

CherylAnn Crysler-Morgan, marketing coordinator for Ecke Ranch Inc., said similar spurts in height occurred at the California-based poinsettia farm, recently acquired by the Dutch-based Agribio Group.

"It's actually due to the unusual weather we have had," Morgan said. "The heat has caused it to stretch and mature at a quicker rate."

However, Rushford believes her three-year old plant's growth spurt was caused by a new air conditioning unit installed next to the shrub earlier this year.

The plant is not much taller than Rushford, who stands about 5 feet 6 inches tall.

Rushford and her husband, Frank moved to Texas about nine years ago to be closer to their daughter.

"The winters are fine here, but the summers are hard," the Michigan native said. "But we like our neighbors."

The poinsettia came to the Rushfords as a gift from their neighbor Billie Slaughter.

Curiosity led Rushford to plant the formerly potted shrub next to her backyard flowers.

"I wanted to see what it would do," said Rushford smiling next to her brilliant red and green plant. "It sure is a pretty plant for Christmas."

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