Gardens

Poinsettia Care

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By Mary Frucelli

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Every winter season I enjoy seeing the Poinsettias in stores. Their vivid colors brighten our homes in the cold weather. They are one of the few winter plants you can purchase this time of the year. Poinsettias are now available in many shades of red, pink, white and variegated varieties. It is hard to decide which I like best, but I usually choose the traditional red. The closer to December, most stores begin to discount their price for Poinsettias and this is the time I usually buy them. Poinsettias are a beautiful decoration for your home and are a wonderful gift for friends and family.

Every year I try to keep growing my Poinsettias throughout the year. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not. When I bring my Poinsettia home, I keep it in a bright south or east facing window. Because my house is so dry this time of the year, I water it well a couple times a week. You can easily tell when your plant needs water because the leaves will hang. Watering the plant thoroughly will bring it right back to life. Using a general purpose liquid fertilizer once every few weeks also benefits your plant.

Tips for picking a healthy Poinsettia plant:

  • Choose a plant with dark green leaves with no signs of damage or curling.
  • Look for bright colored flowers with no insects.

Care for your Poinsettia plant includes:

  • Keep your Poinsettia near a window that gets bright direct or indirect light.
  • Remove the decorative plastic or foil wrap from around the pot to increase air circulation.
  • Keep the plant away from drafts.
  • Check the soil and water only when it feels dry. Too much water can promote root rot. When you do water, do it until the plant is thoroughly wet.
  • Fertilize every two to four weeks.

Care after December includes:

  • Spring care includes trimming the old flower stems back to 6 inches, leaving a few leaves on the stem. This should promote plant growth.
  • Summer care includes repotting in a larger pot if the plant appears too small for its pot.
  • If summer temperatures are above 50 degrees, the Poinsettia can be placed outside. Remember Poinsettias are tropical plants and they do need light and warmth.
  • If your Poinsettia is outdoors, it may need to be watered more often.
  • In the fall, you need to bring your Poinsettia indoors well before the first frost. Keep the plant near a bright sunny window in the day, and it should be in a dark area every night.
  • If the Poinsettia is kept in a temperature between 60-70 degrees consistently, it should flower by the end of December.
  • Remember to keep fertilizing the plant every two to four weeks.

Poinsettias are inexpensive and beautiful plants. If you are careful and can continue to grow your plant all year long, you will be rewarded with wonderful color the following winter season.