Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Poinsettia

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): flowers an...
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): flowers and bracts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The poinsettia is part of the Euphorbia family which consist of about 2000 species of annuals, biennials, evergreen, semi-evergreen, or herbaceous perennials.  Grown for their ornamental leaves and bracts and their attractive colors.  The true name for poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima, which is a compact deciduous shrub with bright green leaves that can be erect or spreading that contain milky sap, the true flower is the tiny yellow cluster in the center that is surrounded by long-lasting red, white, or pink bracts or leaves.

Poinsettias are planted in a soil-based potting mix with added bark and leaf mold.  They require full light or bright filtered light being watered moderately with a liquid fertilizer applied every 10 to 14 days.  A surprising fact that most people do not realize is that they need 12 to 14 hours of complete darkness a day for two months to initiate flowering.   It is best to keep the plant dry after flowering, and not resume watering till new growth begins.

Although you can repot that poinsettia you got for Christmas it will not be a easy task if you can not stick to a long regular schedule of care; this is why most just throw out the plant once the bracts whither away.  To attempt to get your poinsettia to re-flower see here.  Poinsettias are not a frost-tolerant plant so they do not fair well in the cold regions unless they are indoors or in a greenhouse.

General tips for you Christmas Poinsettia:
  • Give your plant at least six hours of indirect sunlight a day.
  • Room temperatures should be between 68 and 70 degrees.
  • Do not place near any excessive heat source; like fireplaces, heating vents or appliances.
  • Keep out of cold drafts.
  • Water when soil feels dry, being careful not to over-water.
  • Do not allow plant to sit in sitting water as this will cause plant to wilt sooner.

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