Poinsettias are more popular at Christmas than during any other season of the year. However, too many people throw out their poinsettias along with their Christmas trees.
Poinsettias are a favorite winter plant, mostly popular during Christmas. Their brilliant red color brightens the snow of a bleak winter day. Too often they die before winter turns into spring if not cared for properly.
How to Choose a Poinsettia
By choosing the right plant, you have a greater chance of it surviving longer.
Consider plant display. Note where poinsettias are displayed. Don’t buy plants shown in drafty areas. Also, avoid plants that are displayed closely together. Don’t choose plants displayed in paper or plastic sleeves.
Examine leaves – Leaves should be brightly colored (no fallen, damaged or yellow leaves). Make sure the plant has dark green foliage down to the soil.
Check centers – Poinsettias have petal like leaves called bracts, with tiny yellow and greed cyathia in the center, resembling tiny beads. Select plants where the yellow buds are tightly clustered together.
Check Soil – Make sure soil isn’t overly moist as this could signal root rot.
Measure height – The plant should be two to two and a half times taller than the diameter of the container.
Care Starts Immediately
Don’t set your new plant under a Christmas tree, like many people do only to see it die. Instead, place it where it can get enough light and heat.
Choose a sunny window. Rather than a window facing north, sit your poinsettia on windows facing south, east or west. Because they’re tropical plants, poinsettias need plenty of direct sunlight.
Maintain moderate to warm temperature. By keeping a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, you preserve the blooms longer. Don’t drop the temperature to lower than 60 degrees because this causes leaves to drop off prematurely.
Check for drafts. Don’t let leaves touch a cold window as this can also make them drop. Extreme temperature shifts also result in straggly looking plants.
Water your plant regularly. Poke holes in the soil for drainage. To ensure your plant gets enough, but not too much water, use a plant watering globe that regulates the right amount of water without your having to check it.
Fertilize at least weekly. A liquid household plant fertilizer is recommended for the plant getting enough soil nutrients.
Transplanting Your Poinsettias
If you live in a tropical climate you can transplant your poinsettias even in the winter. Before planting, get the plant used to the outdoors by placing it outside a few days prior to transplanting. Choose a protected location and then dig a hole larger than the diameter of the pot. When planting, make sure that 1/2 inch of the root ball is above the soil’s surface after the hole is filled.
Water your plant immediately after transplanting it. Wait a few weeks before fertilizing. In early spring, trim the plant back to about eight inches tall. New growth should appear by late spring.
Are Poinsettias Toxic?
Maybe you love this beautiful plant but are afraid to bring one home because you have pets and small children. Don’t let the myth that poinsettias are poisonous prevent you from owning them. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic. Dispelling hearsay that a child’s death in 1919 was due to eating poinsettia leaves, tests were done by the American Society of Florists, along with Ohio State University. The report showed no harm done on rats that were fed different parts of the plant. So if you’re a parent or pet owner, go ahead. Enjoy caring for those beautiful plants without fear.