Caring for Poinsettias

A traditional flowering plant at Christmas, today’s poinsettia is available in several shades ranging from white, pale pink to deep red. The poinsettia was named for Joel Poinsettia (1755-1851), gardener, botanist and diplomat of South Carolina. He was the first American ambassador to Mexico (1824) and introduced the plants to his Charleston, S.C., friends in 1833.


Care Tips:

  • Select poinsettia plants with green foliage extending all the way down to the soil line.
    This is a good indication that the plants have active, healthy roots.
  • Look for plants that have small green buttons (cyathia) in the centre of the coloured bracts.
    These buttons will eventually develop into little yellow flowers.
  • Protect plants from temperatures under 10 ° C (50 ° F). Chilling causes the leaves to drop.
  • Place plants in a room with there is sufficient natural light.
    Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright indirect light per day.
  • Water plants thoroughly after purchase. Discard excess water.
    Never allow the plants to sit in water and only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • Keep plants away from drafts, radiators and hot air registers—do not place it on warm surfaces such as a television.


Keeping Your poinsettias

 With a little extra care, it is possible to keep your poinsettia year-round and have it bloom the following Christmas.


February: Your poinsettia flowers will have faded and lateral growth will have begun.

March: Remove flowers and cut stems to 15 cm (6 in). 

June: Repot plant into a larger pot, if necessary, and plant it outside in the pot. 

July: Pinch all lateral shoots to 7 cm (4 in). You can root the shoots if desired. 

August (towards the end of August): Dig up the pot and bring the plant inside. 

September (middle) until December 1: Keep the poinsettia in light from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Place in a dark place (closet) from 5:00 pm until 8:00 am.

By following these cyclical tips, your poinsettia will return to its full bloom in late December.


Watch Kath Smyth on Global Calgary for her plant care tips.

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