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Former Extension Educator, Horticulture
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Monday, November 21, 2016
"It is hard to think of the Holidays and not conjure up images of red Poinsettias and a snowy landscape", said Kim Ellson, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Poinsettias truly have become a symbol of Christmas and it would be very difficult to think them away.
"Although reds are certainly the most iconic" said Ellson, "variations of pinks, whites, burgundies and salmons are also very attractive." Most plants come predominantly in bush form yet there are also some in tree form.
Why is it then that despite their abundance and familiarity, their care still oftentimes a mystery to many? Are Poinsettias really that difficult to keep healthy and looking their best for any length of time? "There is no need people should be experiencing difficulties with their Poinsettia plants" commented Ellson. "Here are some tips to ensure your Poinsettia looks its very best this season and well into the New Year."
- Purchase a healthy, high quality plant.
- Make sure the cyathia remain tight and have not opened. The cyathia are the green buds in the centers, surrounded the colorful red leaves; which open up to tiny yellow flowers.
- White and healthy roots are a great indicator of good plant health.
- Wrap plants before transporting these home.
- Avoid cold drafts; Poinsettias are highly sensitive to direct drafts and suffer damage easily.
- Always water thoroughly.
- Let plants go completely dry between waterings without stressing plants. Poinsettias are prone to suffer from overwatering as they have sensitive root systems that easily rot out.
- If possible select a cool area in your home; avoid heating ducts or bring plant into warm area during Holiday season. This will ensure vibrant colorful bracts.
- There is no need to fertilize your Poinsettia during the Holidays; save the fertilizer for March.
- Monitor plant for pests such as whitefly by checking the undersides of the leaves to allow for early detection and treatment.
"These basic guidelines should help ensure you get the very most out of your Poinsettia this Holiday and enjoy a colorful season" said Ellson.