Poinsettia plants got their name from Joel Robert Poinsett, who brought the plants to the United States from Mexico in 1825. The plant's scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias are commonly seen in homes and places of business during the Christmas season. The plants have large red flowers and green leaves, the colors associated with Christmas. If you plan on keeping some poinsettias in your home, you will need to learn how to care for them.
Place your poinsettia plant in a container that has several drainage holes, if you did not purchase it in one. Poinsettias require soil that is moist throughout, and this is achieved when you water the poinsettia until you see water coming out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Collect the extra water in a dish and discard it. Never allow your poinsettia to sit in the excess water, or it will suffer root rot. Wait for the top layer of soil to become dry when you touch it before watering the poinsettia again.
Sun and Temperature Requirements
Poinsettia plants enjoy full sun, so place them near a window that lets the natural light in. It is also important for the temperature in the home to be kept between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the poinsettia to stay in bloom. According to Ohio State University, poinsettias are also more susceptible to suffering root rot when temperatures in the home fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Poinsettias will benefit from an application of fertilizer once per month in the spring, summer and fall months. There is no need to fertilize during the Christmas and New Year's season. UMass Extension recommends using either a 20-10-20, 16-16-17, or a 15-0-15 fertilizer. Always follow the product instructions for the particular brand of fertilizer you purchase to avoid burning the poinsettia's leaves.
Repotting in Spring
It may be necessary to re-pot your poinsettia plant in the spring if it is outgrowing its current pot. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, and cut old stems back to within 6 inches of the soil. Place new potting soil in a larger pot at a ratio of 1 part soil, 1 part sand and 1 part sphagnum peat. Transfer your poinsettia to the new pot, shaking off as much of the old soil as possible. Water as you normally would.
- Photo Credit poinsettia image by Grits72 from Fotolia.com