Millions of poinsettias are purchased each year during the Christmas season by people who enjoy the colour and warmth they provide to the home. Proper selection will help to ensure a long lasting plant that you will enjoy throughout the holiday season.
Avoid plants that appear wilted and neglected. Check for signs of insects by looking at the underside of several leaves and avoid plants whose leaves are spotted or yellow. Next, check to see if the flowers are still on the plant. Remember, the colour of a poinsettia is provided by modified leaves called “bracts”. The flowers are the golden-yellow clusters located at the center of the bracts. Finally, never buy a plant that is displayed with a paper or plastic sleeve pulled up around the entire plant. The leaves will turn yellow and may fall off prematurely if a plant has been sleeved too long.
Taking your plant home
If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are common in December, you’ll have to provide some protection to your poinsettia when transporting it to your home. The store should provide a paper sleeve or plastic bag that you can use to cover the plant. Even so, never expose the plant to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes; a chilled or frozen plant will begin to drop leaves very quickly. Once inside, remove the protective wrapping immediately and prepare to enjoy your new poinsettia.
Taking care of your Poinsettia
With proper care you poinsettia will last through the holiday season and retain its bracts well into the New Year. Pay close attention to the following care tips:
- Place in a room where there is sufficient natural light to read fine print but not where the sun will shine directly on the plant.
- Avoid hot or cold drafts or excess heat from appliances, radiators or ventilating ducts.
- Place the plant high enough to be away from traffic, and out of the reach of unmonitored children and animals. Poinsettias are poisonous to dogs and cats.
- Set the plant in or on a water-proof container to protect your furnishings.
- Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Remember to discard excess water from the saucer.
Re-flowering your Poinsettia
Full bloom. Water as needed.
Colour fades. Keep near sunny window and fertilize when new growth appears. Cut stems back to about 8”.
Repot if necessary. Fertilize according to directions. Continue to water when dry to touch. Move outside if temperatures do not fall below 10°C. Place in light shade.
Take inside. Cut stems back, leaving 3 to 4 leaves per shoot. Sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.
Sept 20 – Dec 1
Keep in light only from 8AM to 5PM. Put in a dark place from 5PM to 8AM. The key to success is to follow this strict light/dark protocol very carefully.