Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perpetual Poinsettia -- How to Care for a Poinsettia

What to do with a poinsettia after the holidays? How to best care for these tropical holiday harbingers?

I just can't kill a poinsettia.  It's not premeditated, but sheer luck created an environment which left these seasonal plants blooming in the kitchen until Halloween. 

To be honest, by Easter Sunday the bright red notched blooms are a bit annoying, but golly, if a delicate plant manages to thrive with little care and outright indifference, why sentence it to the compost bin?


As neighbors pulled out the patio furniture and prepared their grills for summer, several inquired as to the identity of the brilliant red plant perched on a bench in the yard.

No one'd yet seen poinsettia reflecting the warm June sun in this neighborhood.

This method of preserving poinsettia is based on location and continuous moisture.  Poinsettia thrive in tropical  Zones Eight and above.  In Florida, shrubs the size of a small SUV sport variegated blooms in shades of white, pink pale green and red.

My grandfather was so proud of his southern poinsettia bush he made the grandkids gather around for a photo each Christmas visit.

Mine spends the winter near a back kitchen window which is perpetually cool, but not cold.  Hot direct sun should be avoided as well as sudden blasts of cold air.  Poinsettias require sunlight, but indirect seems to work best. They're pretty wimpy.  Freezing blasts lasting more than a few moments will cause the plant to shrivel. 

Moreso than maintaining a cool moderate climate, never let the poinsettia dry out. A thirsty plant will quickly drop its leaves, and won't fully recover.  Set it in the sink every four or so days and run the faucet (directed at the soil only) at a temperate setting until the soil is saturated and excess water seeps from the bottom. Keep the leaves and stems dry while watering to avoid water spots. Give it a little plant food every so often.   Leave the plant in the sink overnight, then back to home base.  Set a shallow dish under the newly watered plant.  

In mid to late June, when the weather is consistently in the mid to high sixties at night, and spring rains abate, the poinsettia can be planted in a sunny patch, avoiding hot afternoon sunlight.  The plant's blooms will quickly turn green. Keep the soil watered, but not saturated.   In October, when temps drop, plop it back into a pot, and return the plant to an indoor space.

Folks touring the yard will be pleasantly surprised to see a bit of Christmas in July. 

Happy holidays.

More Articles of Interest:

How to Care for Houseplants -- Water, Warmth and Nitrogen Smoothies

Winter Porch Pots -- Greenery Containers