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Tips to keep poinsettias as healthy as possible

Poinsettia producers spend nearly five months producing beautiful holiday plants only to provide a few weeks of enjoyment during our Christmas holiday season. Under normal circumstances, growers overcome excessive heat and adverse weather conditions. However, COVID-19 has presented a different challenge this season. There are still beautiful plants available, but don’t wait too long as many colors and types are selling out quickly. Below are few tips from local poinsettia producers on how to keep your plant looking its best during our holiday season.

  • 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.
  • Place 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 appreciate cool, but not cold locations. Try to maintain the room temperatures between 68-70 degrees as much as possible. If you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia, however the cooler the better for these plants.
  • Avoid placing your plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Locating the plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts cause the plant to wilt and shorten the lifespan.
  • 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 yellow 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 few years. In fact, the price of a quality poinsettia is within just a few dollars of their price 15 years ago, even though their quality 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 most often disappointed in the results. It’s nearly impossible for homeowners to obtain greenhouse-quality plants.

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

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