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Poinsettias: The Care and Culture

Poinsettia border

The Care and Culture of Poinsettias

This traditional Christmas plant has undergone many improvements in recent years. Excellent new hybrids, combined with our professional growing techniques, produce a poinsettia that will bloom beautifully through the holidays and beyond.

Where to Grow

Your poinsettia will appreciate a bright, sunny window but will tolerate lower light levels. Place your plant in a spot where it will not be exposed to drafts since sudden temperature fluctuations are stressful. Likewise, avoid locations near sources of direct heat. Flowers and their colorful bracts last longest at temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees during the day and slightly cooler at night.

When to Water

When the soil surface feels dry to the touch, water your poinsettia thoroughly until excess water runs out drainage holes. If the pot is nestled within a decorative pot cover, remove the potted plant from the pot cover and water the plant in a sink. Or place it in a plant saucer and water with a watering can. If using the saucer method, discard the excess water after about 15 minutes. However you choose to water, do not allow your plant to stand in water for prolonged periods – this may result in root rot.

When to Feed

Fertilize regularly with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer, preferably one recommended for blooming plants. Follow the directions on the label.

Possible Problems

A plant that still wilts after a thorough watering has most likely been overwatered and has sustained root damage. Yellow leaves or dropping leaves may indicate either too much water, not enough water, too warm temperatures, or too low light.

Special Note

For many years poinsettias were considered poisonous plants. Many studies, including one at Ohio State University (1979), have proven that poinsettias are not poisonous to humans. However, ingesting very large quantities of stems and leaves may induce a mild digestive upset. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, after reviewing all available information, declined to require poinsettias to carry a toxic warning label.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I once worked at a seminary and found a wilted, dry poinsettia in a window corner of my office. With proper care in a sunlit window, a poinsettia can rejuvenate and even take on a vine form. After my year at the seminary, the poinsettia had grown around the window and framed the glass with beautiful green and red leaves!

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