bring on the poinsettias

(Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Poinsettias are somewhat tricky. The plants never seem to last as long as they should, even with some careful attention. Though I have to admit that they will get neglected from time to time, and they know it.

Poinsettias are shrubby, leafy plants with weak stems, that eventually develop into spindly, woody stems up to 10’ tall (they are generally planted in tropical climates where they can thrive and grow into a small tree). Their leaves are dark green and the flowers are yellow and very tiny developing in the late fall and winter. The red leaves are called bracts that appear when it is time for the plants to flower. It is these bracts that make the plants so beautiful. The flowers themselves are fairly insignificant. These plants are now available in a variety of leaf colours like red, yellow, pink, white and peach and various shapes.

One thing I have noticed is most poinsettias are sold in a pot without drainage holes, mostly so they don’t make a mess in the store. When brought home they should be removed from the pot and placed in one with holes, or if possible, drill holes in the pot they came in. These plants need proper drainage and should never be sitting in water. If the plant is on a pot tray, be sure all the water drains through, and then empty the tray. They rot far too easily. They also require bright light without being in direct sunlight and temperatures in the low 70s.

So the trick is to get your poinsettias to remain healthy and in bloom over the holiday season because after all they are Christmas plants here. I have found the above information to be of help in keeping these lovely plants alive, with the attention to soil and light. After the holiday season it will be time for the plant to go through a rest period and need to be stored in a cool, dark place until spring. They will still need some water every few days so they don’t dry out. In the spring, they can be pruned and fertilizer can be added, then they should bloom again. Once it has been consistently warm outside the plants can spend the summer outdoors.

On the other hand, these plants are cheap so it’s just as easy to start over each year with a new plant. Heh.

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