There are so many decorations to decorate with for Christmas. There are Christmas lights, wreaths, Christmas trees, and garlands. Perhaps the most loved Christmas decor item that we decorate with is the poinsettia flower. This red Christmas plant can grow all year long, but it is especially popular during the Christmas season. If you have been wondering how you can care for your poinsettia flower, you have come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about poinsettia flower care. I’ll also give some tips for choosing the perfect poinsettia. Hopefully, this article will answer all your questions about the poinsettia plant.
History of the Poinsettia Flower
Before we dive into the details about how to take care of a poinsettia, you may be wondering what the poinsettia history is. Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’. The Aztecs had many uses for the poinsettia. Such uses include making purple dye for clothes and cosmetics. The milky white sap was made into medicine to treat fevers. If you are wondering what the poinsettia meaning is, you may be surprised that it doesn’t really have a meaning. Instead, it is named after someone. The poinsettia was made widely known because of a man called Joel Roberts Poinsett. After becoming interested in these plants, he immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina. He then began growing these plants. Poinsettia flowers were then named after his last name, Poinsett.
How to Choose a Healthy Poinsettia
In order for your poinsettia flower to last all through the season, you’ll want to choose one that is healthy. If your poinsettia starts out healthy, it will take much less work to keep it blooming through Christmas. Here are some tips for choosing a healthy poinsettia for your home.
- Choose a poinsettia with healthy leaves. The foliage should be dark green, dense, and plentiful. Avoid plants with yellow, greenish-white, or sagging leaves.
- The buds should be clustered together. Tightly clustered buds mean your poinsettia is healthy and will last all through the season.
- The poinsettia flower should be fresh. A sign that your poinsettia isn’t fresh is if the yellow buds in the center of the flower have started to drop off. Another sign is if the yellow buds are shedding pollen. You’ll want a poinsettia that is fresh because fresh poinsettias last longer.
- Choose a poinsettia with colorful leaves (flowers). The smallest leaves surrounding the yellow buds should be fully colored. If they’re still partially green, your plant will quickly lose its color.
- Choose a poinsettia plant without any disease or insects. Just like any other flower, choose a poinsettia that doesn’t have a disease or insects on it.
How to Care for Your Poinsettia Flower
Once you have picked out a healthy poinsettia flower you’ll need to start caring for it. Caring for a poinsettia flower is not difficult. Just like any other plant, poinsettias need plenty of water, sunlight, and the right temperature. With these three things, your poinsettia flower should thrive all season long. Here are the steps for how to take care of a poinsettia flower.
Poinsettias need a minimum of six hours of bright (but not direct) sunlight each day. Make sure you have your poinsettia flower located near a sunny window.
Poinsettias prefer temperatures from 65 to 70° F during the day with a drop to 60° to 65° at night. The lower night temperatures help the poinsettias keep their brilliant color. Make sure you protect the plants from both cold and hot drafts from outside doors, heat registers, or appliances. Never let the plant be exposed to temperatures less than 55° F.
Just like all other plants, poinsettias need plenty of water. Poinsettia flowers like moist, but not wet, soil. When the top of the soil becomes dry, add room temperature water to the plant. Allow the water to drain through the pot when watering, and then discard any excess water in the saucer. If the plant’s container was wrapped with decorative foil, be sure to remove the foil from the bottom of the container to allow water to drain through the plant.
Be careful that you do not overwater your poinsettia flower. Overwatering the poinsettia and letting it sit in excess water are common mistakes that will kill the plant. If your poinsettia begins to wilt, it may because your poinsettia has too little or too much water. If the plant feels dry, add water immediately. But if the container feels heavy and the soil is wet, allow the poinsettia to dry out before watering it again.
Can I Grow Poinsettia Flowers Outdoors?
Once Christmas is over, you may be wondering what you should do with your poinsettia flower. Although poinsettia flowers are usually grown indoors, they can also be grown outdoors. In the right climate and with the right planting location and care, Christmas poinsettias can grow to be 10-foot shrubs.
Of course, proper care is necessary for your poinsettia plant to grow outdoors. Make sure you plant your outdoor poinsettias near your house in a sunny location. Planting it in a corner is recommended because the wind can quickly damage your poinsettia. When you are growing poinsettia flowers outside, choose a spot with slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Be sure that the soil drains well to avoid root rot.
Don’t transplant poinsettia plants outdoors right after Christmas. Once all of the leaves have died back, prune the flowers back to two buds and keep it in a bright location. You can start planting poinsettia outdoors after all chance of frost has passed. Caring for your outdoor poinsettia flower is similar to caring for your indoor poinsettia flower. All you have to do is water it regularly and apply water-soluble fertilizer every other week.
Tips to Make Your Poinsettia Flower Bloom
Even if you are properly caring for your poinsettia flower, it can sometimes be difficult to get the flowers to bloom. Here are some tips for making your flowers bloom this season.
- When fall temperatures begin to drop, bring the plant indoors. Too cold of temperatures can prevent your poinsettia flower from blooming.
- From October 1 to December 1, (or for at least 40 days) a poinsettia will need a strict light / dark period to produce color. Provide 13 to 16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily. At dusk, place the plant in a dark room (or closet) or cover it with a box or paper bag. At dawn, move or uncover the plant to allow 8 hours of sunlight.
If you want your poinsettia to re-bloom next Christmas, it is important that you take care of your poinsettia throughout the year. During the spring and summer, remember to continue watering your poinsettia plant. Make sure you plant it or put the pot somewhere there is plenty of light. Sometime during the summer, you should give your poinsettia some fresh soil. Once it is fall, you should move your poinsettia plant back inside. Have it go through the routine where you keep it in the dark and then bring it back out in the light. Soon, you should notice that the bracts (red leaves) will begin to slightly change in color.
By the time your poinsettia flower is blooming again, your job is done. Simply care for it by following the instructions that I have given you in this article. Re-using the same poinsettia plant that you used before saves you money from having to buy another plant. It also saves the plant, which would otherwise die if it was left outside all year long.
Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
Although people believe that poinsettia plants are extremely poisonous, the truth is that Christmas poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Rarely is it an emergency when someone eats a poinsettia. This is the same with young kids who make accidentally eat it. Ingesting a lot of the leaves would cause some stomach discomfort, just like eating a lot of any food would. If the leaves or stems are eaten, rinse the mouth with water. Because the sap can be a skin irritant to humans or pets, you should wash your hands after touching it. As with any plant or material, if you experience a severe reaction of any kind, seek medical help immediately. If your pet eats it, you may notice mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If you notice these signs, you should contact your vet.
Well, there you have it. Taking care of a poinsettia flower is not as difficult as you may think. Just like any other plant, poinsettia flowers need water, sunlight, and warm temperatures. By properly caring for your poinsettia flower, you’ll be able to keep it lasting all winter long. By the time it is spring, it may be a good idea to move it outside. Once it is Christmas time again, you can bring your poinsettia flower back inside for another year of decorating your home. I hope this article has answered all your questions on how to take care of a poinsettia. Your hard work will be rewarded by having beautiful red Christmas flowers in your home decor.
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