The poinsettia is often given as a gift.
image by D. Pfleiderer: sxc.hu
For many, poinsettia are synonymous with Christmas and the holiday season. The large, deep red flowers bloom near the holidays and the plant brings a bit of greenery indoors when everything is frozen over outside. Native to Mexico, poinsettias were introduced to the United States in 1825 and quickly gained in popularity. Most mature plants are purchased around the winter holidays, though some greenhouses carry them year around. Proper care will ensure your poinsettia is attractive and healthy.
Choose a window with indirect light. Too much sun damages the plant, too little causes it to wilt. A south-facing window is best.
Check soil daily and water when the soil surface begins to feel dry. Water from the top of the pot until the water begins to flow from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
Keep the plant in a warm room, between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing anywhere that temperatures drop below 60 degrees.
Cut stems back to four inches in mid-May, removing the old growth. Fertilize twice a month with a flowering plants fertilizer to aid new growth. Fertilize until December.
Pinch off the new stems in September, leaving only 3 or 4 new leaves per shoot. This keeps the poinsettia from growing too tall.