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Caring for your poinsettia

Jan 5th, 2014 | Category: Growing

by Amy Nelson

Poinsettias are a popular plant to give during the holiday season. Understandably so, as their vibrant colors of red and green go hand in hand with the month of December, whether as a table centerpiece or a window decoration. Being a native plant of Mexico, however, a poinsettia needs the right conditions if you want it to survive and thrive in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest climate is different, but the plant will continue to bloom through the holiday season and even into next winter if properly cared for.

When in bloom, a poinsettia displays brightly colored groups called bracts (in red, pink, or white) on the top of each stem. The small yellow clusters found at the center of the bracts are the actual flowers.

Poinsettias prefer bright, indirect sunlight. A fan of humid conditions, you may want to mist your plant if your home becomes very dry during heating in the winter time.poinsettia

Be sure to always let the soil dry out between waterings. If you have a poinsettia in a pot stand, be sure not to have the base emerged in water. Over watering will kill the plant. If you find there is excess water, keep a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the tray to help keep the plant’s base out of the water.

Pacific Northwest winters can be cold, with temperatures at or below freezing at times. Poinsettias clearly prefer warm temperatures, and do not do well in extreme cold or heat. Do not place the plant next to a hot area, such as heater, or a cold area, like a freezer or doorway.

In our winter months, a perfect scenario for a poinsettia is for daytime temperatures to be around 65 degrees and nights at about 60 degrees.

Should you notice any pests infesting your plant, such as white flies, this means the poinsettia has become sick. There is an organic solution called pyrethrine that should rid the plant of the whitefly.

If choosing a poinsettia, I would recommend the Freedom varieties, known for their deep color tones and large bracts.

Local nurseries and garden centers carry poinsettias; some of them even holding free classes about holiday plant care.

 

Published in the December 2013 issue of Grow Northwest

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