Poinsettia Do's and Don'ts

Returning from our family Thanksgiving trip, I found myself in a panic. It was already December, and we hadn’t done any Christmas decorating! But last weekend, we got very busy, and before long the house was pretty much all Christmas-y looking … except that the place was devoid of poinsettias.

I immediately set off for Plants for All Seasons on Highway 249 , where I was dazzled by their hundreds of poinsettias - they were simply beautiful. As I stood there amongst the amazing display, I also found myself flashing back to the many times I’ve been to The Brookwood Community in Brookshire. It’s a charitable concern that GardenLine loves to support, and they are damn good at growing stunning poinsettias, probably because they are touched by God.

I wish everyone who listens to GardenLine, reads this blog or follows us on Facebook would only visit places that have the freshest, highest-quality poinsettias. But if for some reason you must buy the so-so specimens at big box stores and mass merchandisers, please at least adhere to the following do’s and don’ts for poinsettia care.

Above all, however, get the pick of the litter - the cream of the crop. Select the freshest ones available – avoid any whose leaves are browning or crumpled. And look for a tight cyathia - the tiny yellow flower cluster at the center of each stalk. They are the actual "blooms" on a poinsettia.

The DOs of poinsettia care

  • DO use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
  • DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can't be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.
  • DO provide room temperatures of 68-70° F. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia.
  • DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.

The DON’Ts of poinsettia care

  • DON'T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.
  • DON'T place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
  • DON'T expose plants to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.
  • DON'T over-water your plant, or allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely.
  • DON'T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.

Finally, poinsettias are NOT poisonous. Pease read more on the subject, and pass along the facts to others so the horrible myth will stop spreading

By the way, I pronounce it "poin-SET-ee-uh." Others may say "poin-SET-uh," without the “ee” sound. Both pronunciations are considered correct. But the poinsettia was named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and when a plant is botanically named for someone, the “i” and “a” are added for the “ee-uh” sound. Plumeria is another example, named for Charles Plumier, the botanist of King Louis XIV of France. But that's another story.

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