Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2013

Rowan County poinsettia producers spend almost 5 months producing beautiful holiday plants that provides only a few weeks of enjoyment during the Christmas Holiday season. Under normal circumstances, growers have overcome excessive heat, but below average temperatures and increased humidity provided growers with a different challenge this summer. With proper care, the holiday plant’s life can be extended. Below are tips from poinsettia growers on how to keep your plant looking its best for the holidays.

• Try to use a large, roomy shopping bag or box to protect your plant when transporting it. Most growers will have plastic sleeves to protect the plant; however sleeved plants often topple over during transit.

•Locate your poinsettia 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.

• Poinsettia’s last longer in cool, not cold locations. Try to maintain the room temperatures between 68 and 70 degrees F. If you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia, however the cooler the better for these plants.

• It’s best not to expose poinsettias to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.

• Avoid placing your plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Placing plants near appliances, televisions, fireplaces or ventilating ducts will cause the plant to wilt rapidly.

• Be sure to water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. Over-watering quickly kills poinsettias. Do not allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely. Conversely, plants with the slightest dry soil media will automatically drop their buds located in the center of the bract.

• Poinsettias are a bargain for all the time and care invested into their production. Prices have remained steady over the past ten years. In fact, the price of a quality poinsettia is within one dollar of the price 15 years ago, even though the quality of plants has greatly improved.

With all of this regarding care of poinsettias please note: the holiday plant is produced as disposable plant and should be tossed after they begin to decline. Those that want to keep them for next season are often disappointed in the results. It’s nearly impossible for homeowners to obtain greenhouse quality plants.

Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.