Poinsettias make an excellent holiday gift because they work so well in every holiday decorating opportunity. With a shiny decorative wrap around the pot, a large ribbon, or a holiday themed planter, a live poinsettia plant will assure your welcome to any holiday event. They bring cheer to every occasion; the dinner party, the office, the church group and even the dorm room.
Poinsettias require proper selection and care. The red flowering poinsettia is by far the most popular flowering potted plant for the Christmas season. White, pink, and variegated white and pink are also available. Many new, long lasting varieties of poinsettias are now available. If properly cared for, they may last a month or more after Christmas.
Check your poinsettia daily and follow these tips:
- Water your poinsettia frequently but don’t drown it. Make sure soil remains moist, but do not allow water to remain beneath the pot in the saucer or wrapping. Too much water will cause the roots to rot, and the plant will deteriorate. One easy way to water the potting mix in which the plants are growing without flooding the living room is to use ice cubes when applying moisture, i.e.,:
- Put 4 ice cubes (64 ml of water) per day per quart-size or 6 1/2-inch pot which is the most common size sold;
- Put eight ice cubes (128 ml of water) per day per 8-inch pot;
- Put twelve ice cubes (192 ml of water) per day per larger, 10-inch pot.
- Ice cube size varies; the recommendations given are for ice cubes for which 20 melted cubes will produce 320 ml of water as measured by a standard measuring cup used for cooking.
- Remember that this watering technique provides supplemental watering only. If the plant wilts or the potting mix in which it is growing feels dry, rehydrate the mix by soaking (floating) the pot in water (kitchen sink, clean toilet, bucket) until the roots are completely saturated – then begin the daily ice cube watering schedule again. Poinsettias are closely related to many desert plants. Their first response to dry conditions is to drop their leaves in order to cut down water loss. Plants should be checked weekly for moisture content of the potting medium, i.e., if moist, then continue the ice cube regiment; if not, water (soak) the roots.
- Keep the plant out of drafts. Excessively hot, dry air from heating ducts will reduce the life of the plant. Also avoid cold drafts. Poinsettias are semitropical, and cannot tolerate cold temperatures or rapid temperature changes. Temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees are ideal.
- Place the plant in good light, but not direct sun.
- And finally, after blooming, discard or begin preparing the plant to bloom again next year.
- Poinsettias are perhaps the most difficult flowering potted plants to rebloom indoors. Fortunately in South Texas, poinsettias can be planted directly out-of-doors in the spring after the danger of frost is past. If placed in a protected area where early fall frost won’t harm it, they will make beautiful plants for the next holiday season. Fertilize as with any annual flowering plant during the growing season.
- Make sure that the outdoor poinsettia receives only natural sunlight. Any additional light from yard and street lights may inhibit coloring. Keep pinching out the tips of the new growth once a month so the plant will bush out. Do no pinching after August 15th. The plant should flower right on time if these procedures are followed.