Tips for poinsettia care
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Amy Davis
I am writing about poinsettias in the AT HOME section of The Baltimore Sun, thanks to the folks at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, who allowed me to visit their greenhouses, with literally acres of plants, and to watch staff member Kerry Kelley "paint" poinsettias in magical colors.
Thanks also to Baltimore Sun photographer Amy Davis for her wonderful photo gallery of poinsettias.
Since the topic is poinsettias, I thought I'd share the advice of the folks at Ecke Ranch in Southern California, one of the premier growers of the holiday plant, on how to choose and care for your poinsettia:
- Select plants with stiff stems, good bract retention and no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping.
- Be wary of plants displayed in paper, plastic or mesh sleeves, or plants that are too closely crowded in a sales display. A poinsettia needs its space, and the longer a plant remains sleeved, the more the plant quality will deteriorate. Crowding can reduce air flow around the plants and cause premature bract loss or other problems.
- Examine the plant's soil: it's best to avoid waterlogged soil, particularly if the plant appears wilted. Such a condition could signify irreversible root rot.
- When transporting the plant, protect it from chilling winds and temperatures below 50° F. Re-inserting the poinsettia into a sleeve or a large, roomy shopping bag will usually provide adequate protection for transporting the plant home when it is cold and windy.
- 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 between 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 use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
- DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.
- 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 expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.