Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How Do I Take Care of This Poinsettia?

The one plant that universally says "Christmas" is undoubtedly the poinsettia or Euphorbia pulcherrima.  It's native to rainforests in Mexico and Central America and does pretty well as a houseplant for a month or two.

Right now I'm on the look-out for some to decorate our home and office.  With proper care they should look great throughout the Christmas season and well into the New Year.  

Place your poinsettia in a sunny room.   Their ideal temperature hovers between 60 and 70 degrees. 

One thing to avoid is drafts!   A few years ago, I purchased large (pricey) plants for the patio and front porch.  What a mistake!   The wind beat the tar out of them and I spend the holidays sweeping up dropped leaves.   Years ago I used to purchase large poinsettia hanging baskets at The Flower Pot in Harlingen.     They hung on our screened porch and just invited you outside- but that porch had great protection from the breeze.    Lesson learned.

A second thing you want to avoid is placing them near a heat source.   I may love a roaring fire on a cold winter night but they do not.

Now what about watering?   I water mine heavily and let them stand in a bit of water for an hour or so.   But, after that time, it is very important to remember to empty the excess water from the saucer or decorative pot.  Poinsettias do not like to stand in water for very long.   They are very forgiving of neglect, so you can let them dry out between watering.    When their leaves begin to droop, that's your sign to give your poinsettia a little drink.   If you let it dry out too much, your poinsettia will not die - it will just thank you by shedding lots of leaves for you to clean up. 

Poinsettias come in many colors to match any home and Christmas decor.  I adore the white ones - but this year, we're going colorful so red it is!


africanaussie said...

Here in Australia pointsettias flower in July (our winter). I have mine in the garden - it needs to be in a dark place ie no outdoor lighting to promote flowering. I wonder if you could plant yours out after christmas?

Eliza said...

Great poinsettia post! I'm especially fond of them because my city is the first place where they were propagated and sold in the US. Joel Poinsett brought them back to his plantation here in 1828. :)

Mary Beth said...

Africaaussie - We are lucky and can plant them outside after Christmas! However, many of the "greenhouse" poinsettias do not transplant easily. I've heard you will have more success by removing all the rooting medium and soil from the roots before planting. For me, I've been most successful with cuttings from other poinsettias already growing in the landscape.
ELIZA - What city is that? I'll bet that EVERYONE there decorates with poinsettias in the winter!