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Darrell Blackwelder: Making your poinsettia last all holiday season

Poinsettia producers spend almost 5 months producing beautiful holiday plants that provide just a few weeks of enjoyment during the Christmas holidays. Below are tips from poinsettia growers on how to keep your plant looking its best during the holidays.

• Use a box to protect your plant when transporting. 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.

• Poinsettias last longer in cool — not cold — locations, so maintain the room temperatures between 68-70° F; it’s best not to expose poinsettias to temperatures below 50° F.

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

• Water your plant when the soil media feels dry to the touch. Over-watering quickly kills poinsettias. Do not allow it to sit in standing water. Remove a plant from any decorative container before watering and allow the water to drain completely. Plants with dry soil media drop their flower buds, which are located in the center of the bract.

• Poinsettias are grown as disposable plants and should be tossed after they decline. Those that want to keep them for the next holiday season are often disappointed in their results.

• Poinsettia bracts and foliage are not toxic. However, these plants are ornamentals, intended for ornamental purposes only. The myth of these as poisonous plants has persisted since the early 1900s.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

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