How to Care for Poinsettias

With these cheery, brilliantly colored plants in your home, it will feel like Christmas everyday! In the wild, they typically bloom in December, which made them a natural to become a Christmas plant. With the right care, you will enjoy your plant in bloom for six weeks to two months. They also come in a myriad of types including some speckles or in fun shades of pink, green, oranges, yellows, and plum!

Here’s what else you should know to enjoy your poinsettia all season long.

1.Pick the right plant.
Look for plants that have tightly-closed tiny yellow flowers in the middle. They should be greenish. As they open, they turn yellow. Avoid any that are shedding pollen, which means it’s past its prime.

2.Protect your plant on the trip home.
Cover your plant when bringing it home, especially if it’s below 40 degrees. Most nurseries will provide a plastic sleeve, but, if not, cover it with a bag. And don’t let it sit in the chilly car while you run errands!

3.Give your poinsettia a sunny window.
Poinsettias are tropical so they love light and will tolerate full sun. And they’ll put up with almost any kind of light. In a very dark corner, however, they do tend to stretch and become leggy.

4.Keep your poinsettia watered.
Poinsettias prefer consistent, light moisture. Add a cup or so of water every two to three days. Dump out any water that sits in the saucer or foil cover. The biggest mistake is to let them dry out for a day or so. The plant will begin dropping leaves to try to save its root system.

5.Are poinsettias toxic?
If a stem is broken, poinsettias do emit a white, milky sap which can be irritating to mouths or skin if not washed off. And if your pet eats pieces of poinsettia, he or she will likely have GI upset and nothing worse (but always call your vet if you're worried!). Like any plant, it's still best to keep them out of the reach of curious pets and kids if there’s a risk they’ll take a nibble.

6.Should you save your poinsettia for next year?
In warm climates, you can plant them outdoors. But for most of the country, poinsettias are notoriously finicky about reblooming. If you want to try, keep it in your sunniest window, maintain moisture, and place it outdoors after all risk of frost is past. Then in fall, bring it indoors and give it 12 hours of absolute darkness (not even exposed to a night light!) each night.

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