How to select a beautiful
Choose plants with thoroughly colored and expanded bracts. (Bracts are the
colored portions of the plant, while the actual flowers are the yellow centers).
Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of a
plant shipped before it was sufficiently mature. Look for plants with dense,
plentiful foliage all the way to the soil line. An abundance of rich green
foliage is a vital sign of good plant health.
Shape and proportion
Proper proportion of plant height and shape relative to container size is the
key to an aesthetically pleasing poinsettia. Plants should appear balanced, full
and attactive from all angles. A generally accepted standard is the plant should
be 2 1/2 times taller than the diameter of the container.
Durability and freshness
Select plants with stiff stems, good bract retention and no signs of wilting,
breaking or drooping. Be wary of plants displayed in paper, plastic or mesh
sleeves, or plants that are too closely crowded in a sales display. A poinsettia
needs its space, and the longer a plant remains sleeved, the more the plant
quality will deteriorate. Crowding can reduce air flow around the plants and
cause premature bract loss or other problems. Examine the plant's soil: it's
best to avoid waterlogged soil, particularly if the plant appears wilted. Such a
condition could signify irreversible root rot. When transporting the plant,
protect it from chilling winds and temperatures below 50° F. Re-inserting the
poinsettia into a sleeve or a large, roomy shopping bag will usually provide
adequate protection for transporting the plant home when it is cold and windy.
Here are the DO's of
DO place your plant in indirect
sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun
can't be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.
DO provide room temperatures
between 68 - 70° F. Generally speaking, if you are
comfortable, so is your poinsettia.
DO water your plant when the soil
feels dry to the touch.
DO use a large, roomy shopping bag
to protect your plant when transporting it.
DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE
BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced,
And here are the DON'Ts of
DON'T place plants near cold drafts
or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near
appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts or the top of a television.
DON'T expose plants to temperatures
below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to
cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.
DON'T over water your plant, or
allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove
a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to
DON'T expose your plant to chilling
winds when transporting it.
DON'T fertilize your plant when it
is in bloom.
How to re-bloom your poinsettia
When the poinsettia's bracts age and lose their aesthetic appeal, there's no
reason to throw it out. With proper care, dedication and a certain amount of
luck, you too can re-bloom your poinsettia!
By late March or early April, cut
your poinsettia back to about 8" in height. Continue a regular watering program,
and fertilize your plant with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer. By the
end of May, you should see vigorous new growth.
Place your plants outdoors, where
they can bask in the warmth of spring and summer, after all chance of frost has
passed and night temperatures average 55° F or above. Continue regular watering
during the growth period, and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.
Pruning may be required during the
summer to keep plants bushy and compact. Late June or early July is a good time
for this step, but be sure not to prune your plant later than September 1. Keep
the plants in indirect sun and water regularly.
Around June 1, you may transplant
your poinsettia into a larger pot. Select a pot no more than 4 inches larger
than the original pot. An indoor soil mix with a considerable amount of organic
matter, such as peat moss or leaf mold, is highly recommended. In milder
climates, you may transplant the plant into a well-prepared garden bed. Be sure
the planting bed is rich in organic material and has good drainage.
The poinsettia is a photoperiodic
plant, meaning that it sets bud and produces flowers as the Autumn nights
lengthen. Poinsettias will naturally come into bloom during November or
December, depending on the flowering response time of the individual cultivar.
Timing to produce blooms for the Christmas holiday can be difficult outside of
the controlled environment of a greenhouse. Stray light of any kind, such as
from a street light or household lamps, could delay or entirely halt the
Starting October 1, the plants must
be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Accomplish this
by moving the plants to a totally dark room, or by covering them overnight with
a large box. During October, November and early December, poinsettias require 6
- 8 hours of bright sunlight daily, with night temperatures between 60 - 70° F.
Temperatures outside of this range could also delay flowering. Continue the
normal watering and fertilizer program. Carefully following this regime for 8 to
10 weeks should result in a colorful display of blooms for the holiday season!
The poinsettia is NOT poisonous
The widespread belief that poinsettias are poisonous is a misconception. The
scientific evidence demonstrating the poinsettia's safety is ample and well
documented. Studies conducted by The Ohio State University in cooperation with
the Society of American Florists concluded that no toxicity was evident at
experimental ingestion levels far exceeding those likely to occur in a home
environment. In fact, the POISINDEX Information Service, the primary information
resource used by most poison control centers, states that a 50-pound child would
have to ingest over 500 poinsettia bracts to surpass experimental doses. Yet
even at this high level, no toxicity was demonstrated. As with all ornamental
plants, poinsettias are not intended for human or animal consumption, and
certain individuals may experience an allergic reaction to poinsettias. However,
the poinsettia has been demonstrated to be a safe plant. In fact, in 1992, the
poinsettia was included on the list of houseplants most helpful in removing
pollutants from indoor air. So, not only is the poinsettia a safe and beautiful
addition to your holiday decor, it can even help keep your indoor air clean!
National Poinsettia Day
Did you know that the poinsettia has a special day all its' own?
By an Act of Congress, December 12 was set aside as
National Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death in 1851 of Joel Roberts
Poinsett, who is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the
United States. The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular
holiday plant. So, be sure to give someone you love a poinsettia on December 12,
National Poinsettia Day!