Saturday, December 25, 2004
By Calvin Finch, Conservation Director, SAWS, and Horticulturist
of Poinsettias after Christmas
are the favorite holiday flower.
Today you are probably admiring your poinsettias. They are very decorative when they come fresh from the nursery or
florist and can stay attractive for months if you follow a few easy
should never dry out to the point of wilt. The typical plant has a relatively small root system supporting
a large top with lots of leaf surface that is transpiring moisture.
If you can, place a catch pan under the container and water
when the soil surface dries to the touch.
The water ideally should wet the whole root ball and begin
to trickle out the pot into the catch pan.
This may mean water every day or every other day.
The second best option is to use the ice cube trick.
If you can water the poinsettia well once per week, placing
6-8 ice cubes in the container every day will do a good job of
keeping the soil adequately moist.
You could become quite sophisticated with the ice cube
tactic and calculate exactly how many cubes you need to provide
all the water needed each day. To learn how to calculate the exact need,
and click Christmas
Tree and Poinsettia Care.
are sensitive to cold weather.
Even a short trip in air that is below freezing can hurt
the foliage. Keep the
cover on the plant when transporting it from one location to another. Poinsettias make great decorations outside
and just inside the door but if you want to keep the foliage at
its top form for a long period do not use them outside when temperatures
fall below 40º and do not display them in a spot where cold air
will make contact with the plant when the door is opened and closed.
dry air will reduce the attractiveness and longevity of the poinsettia.
Avoiding the stream of hot air from the heat register is
obvious. A poinsettia in front of a West-facing window may be subjected
to a blast of heat when the afternoon sun hits the window. Avoid such situations if possible.
provide wonderful color over a long period even if they are displayed
deep in the bowels of the house but they probably remain attractive
the longest if they are in a location where there is bright light
from a window but not necessarily any direct sunlight.
the poinsettia is really not necessary but a limited amount of
water-soluble fertilizer once per month may contribute to a longer
period of high performance.
suggested rules for maximizing the life of your poinsettia should
not prevent you from using them in less than ideal locations. Put them where they meet your decorating
goals best for the party or when guests are visiting. Move the plant back to a better location
In 3 to 5
months (sooner if you let it dry out or subject it to high or low
temperatures) after the Holidays, the poinsettias will decline. At
that time, you will have to decide what to do with the plant. I usually toss mine in the compost pile, but
you could keep it alive through the summer and attempt to produce
the colorful foliage for next year.
It is not as difficult as it used to be because the new selections
are day neutral and it is not necessary anymore to do the complete
dark routine for twelve hours every day.
plant declines this spring, cut the stems back to 6 or 8 inches and
place it outside in the soil or a 5-gallon or larger container.
A sheltered location in morning sun is ideal.
Just water it through the summer and protect it from cold in
the winter and your poinsettia could grow to be quite large and make
a good show every year. A
poinsettia in the ground can be fertilized with half a cup of slow
release lawn fertilizer every three months.
Use a water-soluble fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks for plants
in a container. Treated in
this manner, your poinsettia may even outlast the other traditional
holiday item with a long life, the holiday fruitcake.
to everyone. Bring joy to yourself and stay healthy by spending
more time in the garden in 2005.