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Chicago Urban Gardening

The day to day experiences of a University of Illinois Extension Urban Horticulture Educator in Chicago, Illinois

Poinsettias for the Holiday

Posted by Ron Wolford -

Nothing says Christmas like a big, beautiful red poinsettia. Poinsettias are also available in shades of pink, white and purple. Keep your poinsettias thriving throughout the holiday season by following a few simple tips:

  • After you have made your poinsettia selection, make sure it is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can damage the bracts and leaves.

  • Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place in a sunny window. Keep the plant from touching cold windows.

  • Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers or open doors and windows.

  • Ideally poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F. High temperatures will shorten the plant's life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible.

  • Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess water.

  • Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month.

As to keeping the poinsettia after the holiday and trying to make it flower the following Christmas season, my recommendation is don't do it! It is very difficult to get a poinsettia to reflower. So my recommendation is to toss it once it starts to decline. If you insist on giving it a try, check out the Poinsettia Pages web site.



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