Poinsettia care

When Christmas season starts crawling in, you will see many people adoring their abodes with a red flower-like plant named Poinsettias. Surprisingly, Poinsettias don’t bloom any flower, the plant itself is vividly colored like flowers. Poinsettias are native to Central America and Mexico and they got their name from Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who was the first US ambassador to Mexico and introduced the plant in the USA. For some time, there was a concern that Poinsettias plant may be poisonous. But the recent research done on the plant has concluded it as non-poisonous.

Poinsettias Myth

Due to its exotic yet vibrant look, there are a few myths associated with Poinsettias plant. The most popular one is: a little girl named Pepita didn’t have anything to gift baby Jesus. So, she gathered a few weeds and started for the church. On her way, the weeds miraculously turned into bright colored flowers. As a result, the plant is called Flowers of the Holy Night or Flores de Noche Buena. The plant is known under different names in different South American countries. Aztecs called it “Cuetlaxochitl” and considered it a symbol of purity. In Peru & Chile, it’s known as the Crown of the Andes.

Poinsettias prefer indoor atmosphere but can be grown outdoors if necessary care is taken to control humidity and sun. It can brighten your interiors during the holidays. With proper care, the beautiful appearance of Poinsettias can be extended to many weeks after the Christmas season.

Varieties

Carousel Pink

Carousel Pink Poinsettias do not have well-defined borders. They are wavy, bubbly and decorated in shape. As with dark red Poinsettias, the buds start to show up in the late November and full grown in mid and late December. The bracts of this variety are a bit smaller than an average poinsettia. The branches are strong and broad, and they can be easily transported in the garden without the fear of breaking.

Ice Punch

This variety of poinsettias has white shade at the center of its red flowers. The white shade is considered to resemble lightning streaks or the frost that lands on the regular red poinsettias. From the time of blooming, the white streaks increase their radius and spread towards the outer periphery. 

Winter Blush

Winter Blush variety was recently introduced in the market.  It gives out foliage with pink and cream or yellow mix. Pink covers most of the area whereas yellow is present at the borders. This variety is more robust and can easily be grown indoors. 

Winter Rose

It is a ruffled variety that resembles an open rose. The color varies between deep red to mild red.  It adds a new spin to your holiday décor and is a fine alternative to the flat bracted red poinsettia. Having delicate branches, winter rose needs extra care. 

Cinnamon Star

Cinnamon star variety of poinsettias is gaining popularity as it is being used more than ever during Thanksgiving. There is a great liking for alternatives of traditional poinsettias, and Cinnamon star is a mild one. It flowers early, has dark leaves and upright bracts.

Orange Spice

Orange Spice Poinsettias are a rare variety. A few years back you could only wish for orange poinsettias. These are sleek, long and have dark foliage. The color resembles a burning orange sunset, and this perfectly suits Halloween decoration. However, it is also used, though less in numbers compared to another type, during Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Whitestar

This variety looks way different compared to traditional poinsettias. It has smooth, huge and flat bracts arranged in a symmetrical fashion. It comes with a light creamy-green color that perfectly suits the occasion of Thanksgiving.

Planting

The best way to propagate Poinsettia plants is by planting cuttings. The cuttings form new growth and develop flowers within a year during Christmas. You should take the cuttings of three to four inches during July or August and insert in pots filled with a mixture of sand, perlite and peat moss.

Care

Although Poinsettias are native to Central and North America, taking proper care of them is essential. These plants can get easily affected by changes in weather. And since they are short day plants, you need to cater for their specific needs to make them bloom at the right time. 

 

Watering

Poinsettias enjoy humid, semi-cool and bright indirect light. Mulching below the stem helps these plants retain moisture. But overwatering can lead to root rot. A typical poinsettia needs to be watered once in every 4 days. After the flowering season, decrease watering to let the plant dry out some leaves to form new ones. Relocate the poinsettia plant to cool dark area until around April. In dry rooms, using humidifiers might be necessary.  

Fertilizing

Any fine household fertilizer can be applied to poinsettias. The best time to fertilize the plants is after the holiday season. Apply fertilizer once or twice in 15 days. Once the fertilizer is applied and the plant has shed a few old leaves, you will notice new growth within the next 2 weeks. 

Pruning

Pruning of Poinsettias is done after holidays or during the spring season. The plant, during this period, should be relocated to a sunny area and its bottom most canes or branches should be cut until about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. To encourage new growth and branching, cut the tips once every month until August. In fall when nights become longer, the poinsettia can be brought indoors. Along with pruning, you might also repot the plant with a mixture of sand, perlite and peat moss. 

Temperature

Poinsettias need to be kept at an optimal temperature of 13-16 °C or 55-60 F on cooler nights and 18-21 °C or 65-70 F on a warmer day. This will help the plant be full-grown during the holiday season.  From September through November, if you keep your Poinsettias in long hours (at least 12 hours) of darkness during nights, it will encourage the blooming. 

If you can take proper care of your Poinsettias, ‘they don’t have to be holiday decor “throw-away” plants. You can keep these plants all year round to add to your interior beauty.

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