Poinsettia is in the spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas Holiday floral displays.
There are over 200 cultivated varieties of poinsettia. The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 3 to 6 inches in length. The colored bracts which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala.
Commonly grown as an indoor plant where it prefers good morning sun, then shade in the hotter part of the day.
When you’re picking and caring for poinsettias.
Check for broken branches. Poinsettias are naturally brittle plants that break easily in transit. Make sure the branches are intact, with no cracked limbs held together by the plant sleeve.
Check the flowers. The poinsettia’s flowers are tiny, yellow flowers in the center of the showy bract. Make sure they’re not opened yet so the plant will last longer.
Avoid greening bracts. If the red or colored portions of the flower bract have begun to turn green, the plant is older and it won’t retain its colors as long.
Count the bracts. You want a compact plant with as many bracts as possible. Some professional growers insist on 8 to 12 bracts for a 6-inch potted plant.
Remove the sleeve. Do not keep your new poinsettia in its planter’s sleeve. These are arid, subtropical plants and need good air circulation and excellent drainage to thrive. Sleeves often hold water and promote plant decline.
Do not overwater. The compost surface should be slightly dry before you water again. However, when you do water, water the plant thoroughly and ensure free drainage. Do not let the compost dry completely.
No fertilizer during the holiday season. This will hasten the decline of the flower bracts. They prefer to be a little hungry for a better show.
Avoid drafty, cold locations. Do not place near windows or doors or under vents where cold air will blow directly on them. Poinsettias prefer warmer air.
Give them light. Poinsettias prefer bright light during the winter flowering season.
The most common problems experienced by poinsettias are loss of leaves and leaves turning yellow or brown.
* Yellowing or brown leaves are most likely caused by dry air. Although poinsettias do not like to sit in water, they do like humidity. If your plant begins to look crinkly around the leaf edges, try misting it regularly or setting the pot in a tray filled with pebbles and water to raise the ambient humidity.
* If your plant wilts suddenly and drops its leaves, there are two probable causes: overwatering or underwater. Soggy soil will result in sudden leaf drop, and allowing the plant to become bone dry will result in decline of the plant.
* However, if your plant begins to drop healthy, non-wilted leaves, the culprit is probably a cold draft or too little light. Try relocating the plant to a brighter, less drafts location.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
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