Poinsettia Do’s & Don’ts


Last year at this time, I was just returning from a Thanksgiving cruise with extended family and in a panic about not having any poinsettias around the house since we were so late in decorating.

This year, though, I’ve had my ‘spidey-sense’ on full blast, looking for the best poinsettias while out on my book-signings. Other than a real fresh Christmas tree, nothing puts me in the holiday mood like poinsettias. And, of course … ask the Garden Guy … only the very best poinsettias will do.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that if you really want the best-looking poinsettias in all the region, you get them from independent nurseries, garden centers and floral shops, or you go the Brookwood Community. Brookwood is an educational environment that creates meaningful jobs, builds a sense of belonging, and demands dignity and respect for adults with disabilities. It is truly a charity doing God’s work, and all the residents have a hand in the creation and care of their magnificent poinsettias. So, if you want the most amazing looking poinsettias ever, get on out to the community in Brookshire, or drop in at their shop attached to Gallery Furniture in Richmond, just off the Grand Parkway.

If you can’t make to Brookwood, it is my wish that GardenLine fans only visits places offering the freshest, highest-quality poinsettias. I assure you that’s not going to be mass merchandisers or big box stores. But if for some reason you must buy so-so specimens at chain stores, please at least adhere to the do’s and don’ts below.

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

The DO’s 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 overwater 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 that horrible myth will stop spreading.

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PHOTOS: Randy Lemmon