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Poinsettia Pointers

By Paul James

Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America, where they’re a perennial (and often weedy) shrub that can grow up to 15-feet tall. Since their introduction to the U.S. in 1828, they’ve become synonymous with Christmas, although most of them wind up in the trash come January. So for most folks, the goal is simply to keep them healthy and happy for roughly six weeks. Here’s how to do just that.

Try to buy your Poinsettias on a day when temperatures are well above freezing, and make sure they’re wrapped regardless of the temp. Exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can permanently damage the plants. And don’t leave your plants in the car while you do more shopping. Depending on the weather, it may be too cold – or perhaps even too hot – inside your car.

Once home, carefully unwrap your Poinsettias and place them in an area that gets roughly six hours of indirect light a day. Most often, that’s an eastern or southern exposure. Keep the plants away from warm or cold drafts from air registers or open doors or windows.

Thankfully, Poinsettias are happy with the same daytime temperatures people are – 60 to 70 degrees during the day, and a bit cooler at night. Temps above 70 degrees will shorten the plant’s lifespan.

Check the soil daily, and water to maintain even soil moisture. If your plants are wrapped in foil, punch holes in the foil so water can drain into a saucer. Discard excess water in the saucer shortly after watering. Keep in mind that soggy soil will lead to root rot.

Do all that, and your Poinsettias should last at least six weeks indoors.

Happy gardening, ya’ll.