When you think of Christmas decor inevitably you will picture a Poinsettia somewhere in that image. We love the festive looks of these flowers at Christmas. However, just how do you know which plant is the best choice when buying one? Or, how do you take care of it once you get the Poinsettia home? We found a great article that we want to share with you on just how to do this. (Originally Posted by: Peyton Hamby on ACES here)
Poinsettias: The Christmas Flower
There is a legend that a little girl in Mexico, named Pepita, and her cousin, Pedro, were on their way to church in honor of the Christ Child. Pepita was poor and didn’t have money for gifts. On the way to church, she picked a bouquet of wildflowers. As she laid them lovingly on the altar, they turned into beautiful poinsettias, according to Norman Winter, Mississippi State University horticulturist.
This story spurred on the name “Flores de Noche Buena” or Flowers of the Holy Night.
How To Select
“When picking a poinsettia, choose one with colorful bracts but one that the blooms have not opened,” said Chip East, Alabama regional Extension agent in commercial horticulture.
Bracts are the colorful leaves most people associate with the plant. The actual poinsettia flower is the small green or yellow flower in the center of the bracts.
“The plant should appear full with uniformly dark green leaves attached from the colored bracts to almost the base of the plant,” Raymond Kessler, Extension specialist, said in an article on poinsettia care. “The leaves themselves should be completely free of disease and insects.”
Kessler advises people to make sure the poinsettia is a high-quality plant before leaving the store.
“Although most Christmas poinsettias are red and green, there is a wide array of other colors, including pink, white, orange, marbled, pale green and cream,” added Shane Harris, Tallapoosa County Extension coordinator.
Other variety in poinsettias can be the size of the plant, average lifespan and sturdiness or strength, according to another Kessler article on the greenhouse production of poinsettias.
Care and Maintenance
Once a poinsettia is in the house, place it in the window when possible. However, it can be moved to other areas for display when needed, said East.
The plants do not tolerate moisture or shady areas, Kessler said. They thrive in bright sunlight with moderate temperatures no higher than 70 degrees. If sunlight is too direct, the bracts will discolor.
“If a pretty wrap is around the pot, remove the plant from the wrap before watering,” East said. “Allow the water to drain before placing the plant back in the decorative wrap.”
The average lifespan of an attractive poinsettia is about two to four weeks, or with exceptional care, six to eight weeks, Kessler said. However, it is actually a perennial plant that could live for many years.
“Getting a plant to reflower is difficult for the home grower but can be done,” East said. “Spending time to reflower a poinsettia would make a home grower appreciate the nursery that originally grew it.”
If someone wants to attempt to reflower and maintain their poinsettia, it will need more attention than in the Christmas season. For more in-depth information about post holiday care and reflowering tips, see Kessler’s article “Consumer Poinsettia Care.”