Millions of poinsettias are purchased each year during the Christmas season by people who enjoy the color and warmth they provide to the home. Proper selection will help to insure a long lasting plant that you will enjoy throughout the holiday season.
Avoid plants that appear wilted and neglected. Check for sings of insects by looking at the undersides 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 color of a poinsettia is provided by modified leaves called "bracts". The flowers are the golden-yellow clusters located in 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 to 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. 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 your poinsettia will last through the holiday season to 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 ventilation ducts.
- Place the plant high enough to be away from traffic, and out of reach of unmonitored children and animals.
- 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.
- To prolong the bright color of the bracts, temperature should not exceed 72 degrees during the day or 60 degrees at night.
Re-flowering Your Poinsettia
December: Full bloom. Water as needed
February: Color fades. Keep near sunny window and fertilize when new growth appears. Cut stems back to about 8 inches.
June 1st: Re-pot if necessary. Fertilize according to directions. Continue to water when dry to touch. Move outside if temperatures do not fall below 50 degrees. Place in light shade.
Late August: Take inside. Cut stems back, leaving 3 to 4 leaves per shoot. Sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.
September 20th til December 1st: Keep in light only from 8 am to 5 pm. Put in dark (NO LIGHTS) 5 pm to 8 am.
Remember the key to success is to follow he strict light/dark instructions very carefully.