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Poinsettia Care

Poinsettia Care

Before you can care for poinsettias, you need to understand where the originate. Poinsettias are native to Mexico. They enjoy warm, tropical climates. So, why do we associate them with Christmas? The plant turns its brilliant red in December in the wild. This is caused by shorter days. The plant produces less chlorophyll, due to less sunlight. The lack of chlorophyll, which keeps plants green, is reduced and a brilliant red appears. You can also find other colors such as white, pink, marble, etc. They are also associated with Christmas because the resemblance of the Star of Bethlehem.

At the nursery, customers ask us how to care for poinsettias. It can be tricky, but knowing their origins gives some clues. They enjoy and thrive in temperatures indoors from 65-75. They begin to suffer outdoors below 50 degrees, and will die at freezing temperatures. So, they can not live outside in winter in our area (Arkansas). If you live in an area that stays around 65 or higher in winter, they can stay outside. When you bring your poinsettia home, find an area in your home that is not drafty. You would not want to put near a door because of the fluctuation of temps and cooler air as the door is opened and closed. They also would not like being next to a drafty window or under a vent. Since, they grow in tropical areas, they love bright light. Poinsettias need 4 to 6 hours of bright light, not necessarily direct light but bright light. Indoors, east, west and south facing windows provide the best source of sunlight. But remember, not right next to the window to avoid cool drafts. Watering issues are probably the biggest culprit for failing poinsettias. They grow in the tropics so they like humidity. In the winter, our air indoors tends to be drier when we run our heat. So, how do you add humidity for this plant? . There are two ways you can achieve more humidity, 1) place your plant in a room with a humidifier. If you don't have or use a humidifier, 2) you can lightly mist the poinsettia every other day. Not too much though, too much moisture on top of the plant can cause mildew. Poinsettias also love a fair amount of water. Not soggy just consistently moist. Too much water will cause root rot, and you will see leaves curl and turn yellow then drop off. This is the most common problem. You don't want them to dry out either. Leaves will turn brown and drop as well. The most common question we get is "How much do I water them?". Each day check them by touching the soil. If the top seems dry, poke your finger down about an inch (half your finger) and if it's cool and moist wait till the next day, if it's dry, go ahead and water. The farther down in the soil you feel, the moister it gets. Remember, the roots are low in the pot and that's where they get their water from. They don't get the water from the top layer. Now, how much do I give? You want it moist but not soaking wet. If the pot does not have drain holes the roots will sit in water. That is not good. If it does have drain holes, you can pour water in the pot, over the sink, till it pours out. You should not need to do this daily, but it does depend on your house environment. Just use the finger test. Also, you know those beautiful foil wrappings they come in? Those are not good for the plant, because they hold water in. They can cause root rot, because water can not drain out. We make two recommendations 1) remove the foil covering completely or when you water and it's drained, you can put it back on, or 2) cut holes in the bottom of the foil so water can drain out.

Consistent temp and water are the important factors to keep your poinsettia beautiful. Also, after the holidays, they may need

to be fertilized. If you achieve these conditions, your plant can live longer than the holidays and live as a houseplant throughout the year.

Happy holidays!!

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