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Lawn and Garden

Poinsettia Care

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12/01/2010 - Christmas is just around the corner, and in most gardens, this is the quietest time of the year with nothing for the gardener to do but plan for the spring to come. At our greenhouse, this is a very busy time as the Poinsettia crop that began in June is finally finished and we are trying to get them all delivered. We deliver not only here in Casper but also around the region. If you are lucky enough to have a poinsettia in your home, I hope it is one of ours. Whether it is one of ours or not, there are a few things you need to know to care for them. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and it is important to remember where they come from when you are caring for them.

Poinsettias like about the same temperature as we do; anywhere from 60-72 degrees Fahrenheit is good for them. When it comes to watering, it is much better to err on the dry side, rather than keeping them too wet because they are very prone to root rot fungus. I tell people the best way to know when to water a poinsettia is to touch the top of its soil, and then rub your fingers together. If you feel moisture on your fingers, it is not time yet and you should check again tomorrow. If you do not feel moisture, water them thoroughly until the soil is well saturated, but never allow them to sit in a pool of water for more than a few minutes.

When poinsettias are in their flowering stage they only need indirect sunlight to survive. Direct sunlight will actually cause their bracts to fade sooner than if they were kept in bright, indirect light. Flowering poinsettias are not growing actively, so they do not require any additional fertilizer. Fertilizer will raise the salt content in the soil, and that can raise the chance that they will develop root rot. Following these tips will help you make sure that your poinsettias will last well into the new year. After that they will slowly decline unless you remove the flowers. By doing this you will cause them to go back into an active growing stage. They will flower again, but it may not be at the right time. Usually, they will try to flower again in the spring. The only way to prevent them from doing this this is to make sure they receive some artificial light through the early spring until May. The best way to accomplish this is to simply put them in a room where you have the lights on each evening. Once it warms up enough in the summer you can put them in a moderate light area outside and they will grow very well.

I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for reading the articles that I write each month. I look forward to continuing to write for you in the future.

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