How to Care for Poinsettias

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The poinsettia is undoubtedly a popular plant and visually marks the Christmas season. The plant is available in a variety of colors, sizes and it's generally inexpensive to boot. For a plant that gives a lot, it requires very little in terms of care. With very little effort, this seasonal plant will reward you with blooms and beauty throughout the holiday season.

  • Water the plant when it feels dry to the touch. Allow the water to drain out of the bottom. Never allow the plant to sit in water which will cause wilting, another cause of leaf drop. Place a layer of pebbles on a tray beneath the plant to further keep the plant out of water and increase humidity. For particularly dry environments, very typical in the winter months, it may be necessary to water the plant more frequently, possibly daily. Providing a mist to the poinsettia will also help to ward off dryness.

  • Place the poinsettia in bright, but not direct sunlight. Give the plant at least six hours of light each day. Maintain a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees during the day. When placed in temperatures below 60 degrees, premature leaf drop will result. Avoid extreme shifts in temperature to prevent damaging the plant. To extend the bright color of poinsettia bracts, do not place the plant in temperatures above 70 degrees. Avoid placing the plant near fireplaces, near drafts or ventilation ducts.

  • Watch out for whitefly, a common pest for the poinsettia. Detecting whiteflies is relatively easy. When picking up a plant if white insects fly away, the plant has whiteflies. Ridding a poinsettia of the pest is relatively easy. Use an insecticidal soap to remove the insects. Do not fertilize a poinsettia while it is blooming. Fertilization, pruning and other extensive care is only required to maintain the plant into the next blooming season.

  • Photo Credit jimw, creativecommons.org, Flickr
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