Poinsettias: Care of House and Garden Plants (E2243)
Poinsettias are traditional Christmas flowering plants that will last throughout the Christmas season. Some people try to reflower the plants again the next year. This bulletin describes how to select and care for poinsettias and how to reflower them.
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Selecting Your Poinsettia
The plant you choose should have dark green foliage. Fallen, yellow or damaged leaves indicate poor handling or fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem. The colorful flower bracts (red, pink, white, or bicolor pink and white) should be in proportion to the plant and pot size. Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers (those red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts).
Be sure the plant is wellwrapped when you take it outside on your trip home because exposure to low temperatures for even a short time can injure leaves and bracts. Unwrap the plant as soon as possible because the petioles (stems of the leaves and bracts) can droop and twist if the plant is left wrapped for too long. For maximum plant life place your poinsettia near a sunny window or some other well-lighted area. Do not let any part of the plant touch cold window panes. Poinsettias are tropical plants and are usually grown at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F in greenhouses, so this temperature range in the home is best for long plant life. High temperatures will shorten the life of the bracts. Poinsettias do not tolerate warm or cold drafts so keep them away from radiators, air registers, and fans as well as open windows or doors. Place your poinsettia in a cooler room at night (55 to 60 degrees F is ideal) to extend the blooming time. Examine the soil daily and water only when it feels dry. Always water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot and discard the excess water. If you don’t water enough, the plant will wilt and the lower leaves will drop. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and then drop. If you keep your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer, once or twice a month according to the manufacturers recommendations.