Along with the snow, shopping and caroling, Poinsettias signal the arrival of Christmas. These plants, with their showy foliage, grace the shelves of nurseries and stores during the month of December. Commonly referred to as Christmas plants, Poinsettias originated in the warm climates of Mexico. Although Poinsettias provide a finishing touch to the Christmas season, they exhibit attractive foliage throughout the year. With proper care, attractive Christmas plants provide beauty and interest during subsequent seasons.
Look for a healthy poinsettia when purchasing your plant. Check the surface of the soil for extreme dryness and the appearance of roots near the upper surface of the soil. Avoid purchasing plants that exhibit crowded roots and tight, dry soil. Choose a Christmas plant that displays large leaves at the base with numerous, colored bracts at the tips of the stem. Select a plant with uniform upward and outward growth. Healthy plants resemble small bushes. In cold climates, ask the store to cover your plant before taking it outdoors. A loose, plastic bag protects the poinsettia from freezing during transportation.
Put your new poinsettia in a sunny location inside your home. Find an area that receives full sunlight during the majority of the daytime hours. Avoid placing your Christmas plant in an area that experiences fluctuating temperatures. If in doubt, place a small thermometer near the base of the plant. Keep the temperature range between 65 degrees F at night and 80 degrees F during the daytime.
Water your poinsettia when the surface of the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. These tropical plants suffer in soggy soil and in very dry soil. Empty the drip tray or decorative sleeve after watering to avoid standing water near the roots.
Plant your poinsettia outside after the Christmas season in very warm climates. Avoid planting the tropical plants outdoors where temperatures drop below freezing. Prune your poinsettia before transplanting it into your landscape. Remove the faded bracts from the tips of the stems. Cut off any damaged or leggy segments of your plant. Place in well-drained soil, keeping the depth of the surrounding soil even with the surface of the rootball. Gently firm the soil around your transplanted poinsettia. Water well after planting.
Prune your potted plant after the Christmas season to keep it as a houseplant in cool climates. Avoid leggy houseplants by snipping away outer stems and fading bracts. Continue to provide adequate sunlight and water to your poinsettia throughout the year to enjoy colorful bracts the following Christmas season.