From the Desk of Ed Hume: The Magnificent Christmas Poinsettia

December 13, 2010 at 2:31 AM Leave a comment

Without question, the most popular holiday flowering plant is the Poinsettia!  That’s not to say Christmas cactus, flowering azaleas, mums, and others are not popular too!  However, it’s the poinsettia that has really grown in popularity over the past couple decades.  Today’s poinsettias have gorgeous huge blooms, lush foliage, and they come in a broad range of colors and color combinations.

The red tones remain the most popular poinsettia flower color, though the rose and pinks are gaining popularity.  There are also some attractive new bi-color varieties.  The whites are favorites too!  In fact, this year the Paul Ecke Ranch (the world’s leading poinsettia hybridizer) has introduced a new white variety called “Polar Bear.”  With the purchase of this variety, a donation is made to the non-profit P.B.I. to help conserve the world’s polar bears through research and education.

Several years ago “Winter Rose,” a new double flowering type of poinsettia, was introduced.  Although it was developed as a cut flower variety, you will occasionally see it as a pot plant too!  The flowers are smaller than the typical poinsettia.

With a little special care, it’s not unusual for today’s varieties of poinsettias to remain in bloom until April, May, or even longer.  Here are a few of my suggestions on how to keep them looking their best:

SELECTION: It all starts here!  Often I see the plants being displayed outdoors (sometimes under cover), but this is not the place for a tropical plant like a poinsettia.  Personally, I would avoid buying them.  Droopy lower leaves, dead leaves in the pot, or plants with off color leaves should probably be seriously evaluated before purchasing.  You want to look for plants that have healthy dark green leaves, sturdy stems, and brilliant flower color.

LOCATION IN THE HOME: During the holidays, put it in a spot where everyone can fully enjoy its beauty.   After the holidays, place it in a spot where it gets bright light and warm (70 to 72 degrees) room temperatures.

HUMIDITY: Place a cup or decorative glass of water beside or behind the plant.  As the water evaporates, it helps to provide the humidity the poinsettia needs.

WATERING: This is a tough one to determine.  Different growers use varying soil mixes, so you might have to experiment a little.  Poinsettia plants drink rather generous quantities of water when they are in bloom.  Test the soil when it begins to dry, then re-water.  See my comments on watering houseplants on our article “Houseplant Chapter” for an excellent idea on determining when to water houseplants by simply using a toothpick.

YEAR-ROUND CARE OF POINSETTIAS: These new varieties are so superior to the old ones that it is not unusual for the plants to last for years as houseplants.  If you want to know how to take care of them and get them to bloom the following year, go to our web site and check out “Poinsettia Care”.

Give a poinsettia the care it needs and you’ll be rewarded with a nice year-round houseplant.


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Clip of the Week: Holly for Christmas Ed’s Podcasts: Flowering Potted Plants

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