If you’re like me and millions of other folks, part of getting ready for the holidays is purchasing a poinsettia…or three or four of them.
While many stores set up their Christmas stock before Halloween has come and gone, I find the true mark of the beginning of the holidays is when you see poinsettias in stores.
But before you grab one to bring home, read these three quick tips to keep your poinsettia looking great the whole season through.
You can find them at your local garden center, the floral shop down the street, the hardware store, all the big box stores, church bazaars, that boutique several blocks over and even at your local supermarket – come late November, poinsettias are everywhere.
These traditional Christmas plants show up just as the temperature begins to drop.
Because they hale from a naturally tropical climate, they need a little extra TLC. Lucky for us, that’s easy enough to do and, with minimal effort, will cheer our homes through the entire holiday season.
Follow these three tips, and you will have a poinsettia that will grow for years to come once the holidays are over.
1. Protect Your Poinsettia for the Ride Home
Cold air drastically shortens the life of your poinsettia. When the plant is exposed to cold temperatures or drafts in your home, it will drop its bracts (the colored leaves) much sooner, as cold triggers the plant’s dormant period.
If you live in an area where winter means outdoor temperatures are below 60 degrees F, you will need to take precautions to get your poinsettia home. When you purchase one from a nursery or a floral shop, they will most likely have protective sleeves to put over the top of your plant to shelter it from the cold. If you purchase it where they don’t offer sleeves, grab a couple of extra bags and slide them over the top of the plant.
Plan to bring it straight home, so it’s not sitting in a cold car. When you get your plant home, it will be happiest in temperatures between 60-70 degrees F away from drafty doors and windows.
2. About That Shiny Protective Sleeve
Poinsettias are usually sold with a protective plastic nursery sleeve around the outside of the pot. They’re often printed with shiny colors or patterns representative of the holiday and make the whole thing look nicer than the nursery pot the plant is grown in. The sleeve protects the surface your poinsettia is set on. But it also enables water to collect in the bottom; this is a problem.
Poinsettias prefer moist soil at all times but hate wet feet.
To keep your poinsettia from developing rot, cut a drainage hole in the bottom of the protective sleeve and set it on a saucer. Or remove the sleeve and water the plant, allowing it to drain thoroughly before putting it back in the sleeve.
You can also ditch the sleeve entirely and display the nursery pot inside a more festive container for the holidays. Just be sure to tip it out after each watering. Water your poinsettia anytime the top one inch of soil dries out.
3. Near the Window, Not In It
Poinsettias love bright, indirect sunlight. The best place to display your plant is close to a sunny window, not in it. Too close, and you risk burning the leaves. Also, if you live in an area with cold winters, windows are much too cold for poinsettia. Don’t be afraid to try a few different spots until you find the right one.
Pro tip: if you have a cat, find the place where they like to snooze in the sun, your poinsettia will be happy near that spot too.
And that’s that.
See? I told you it was quick and easy. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a poinsettia that will look fantastic when you’re ringing in the New Year.
You can even keep it and get it to flower again next Christmas. As they tend to go dormant after the holidays, it’s even easier to care for them during the remainder of the year.
You can easily propagate poinsettia by taking cuttings from your plant too.
Imagine taking that one poinsettia and turning it into five by next Christmas – instant Christmas gifts! But be careful; it’s illegal to propagate some of them.
Nope, I’m not kidding.
You can read all about how to propagate them and plant patents here.
Poinsettia are just one of many plants associated with the holidays. Why not bring home one of these other traditional Christmas plants to decorate your home?
Now that you’ve mastered the care and feeding of your poinsettia, can we talk about that sad Christmas cactus that hasn’t bloomed in years? Yeah.