Caring for the Poinsettia

First Posted: 12/12/2007

Poinsettias are by far the most popular holiday plant, according to the Penn State Cooperative Extension Master Gardener. Before purchasing, check the little yellow flowers in the middle of the red or colored bracts. The tiny inconspicuous flowers should be present and unopened. Leaves should be dark green. Properly grown and cared for plants are worth the little bit extra that they cost. Take care in transporting your plant; protect it from cold and drafts.
When you get home, make a hole in the bottom of the foil to allow adequate drainage; poinsettias do NOT like wet feet. Better yet, remove the foil and place the pot in a colorful container. Never allow the plant to sit in water.
Bright light and somewhat cool temperatures will make your plant last longer. Either discard the plant or save as a foliage plant.
With some effort, these plants can bloom again. Cut back to 4 to 6 inches; fertilize every two weeks; when outside night temperatures reach 55 degrees, move the pot outside, trim to maintain compact habit. On Oct 1, bring the plant indoors, placing in a closet, or cover with a box for 14 hours per day. Color should be visible by mid-December.

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