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Tips on How to Make Your Poinsettia Last Through the Holiday Season

The poinsettia is a traditional holiday plant and is widely used in Christmas decorating around the country. This holiday symbol is particularly well known for its red and green foliage, although throughout the years the plant has been expanded to a wide range of colors from pastels, to yellows, whites, plus many vibrant bi-colors.

With the many different varieties of Poinsettias available in the market place, we want to share tips with you to help make your poinsettia last throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Choosing the right poinsettia:

  • Be sure to pick out a healthy one with dark green leaves along the entire length of the stems, and leaves which are not wilted.
  • Make sure the colored leaves are completely colored, bright and vibrant.
  • When transporting your poinsettia outside, be sure to insulate the plant from the elements with a plastic or paper wrap if it’s cold. The longer your plant is exposed to the cold air, the more likely it will be to be unhealthy and not last as long.

You have the poinsettia home, now what?

  • Place your plant near a south, east or west facing windows, as they are tropical and appreciate as much indirect sunlight as possible.
  • These plants do like a humid environment.
  • During the winter, our homes are typically very dry due to heating, so misting your plant daily helps.
  • To keep your poinsettia blooming for as long as possible, keep the room at a temperature of 65-75 degrees.
  • Avoid areas where there are cold drafts or where they can come in contact with a cold window.
  • Your plant should be watered thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. Water until it drains out the bottom but do not let the plant sit in water such as in a saucer underneath of it. Overwatering and underwatering are both common mistakes made by individuals and can lead to wilt and/or root rot.
  • Fertilization is not needed during the holiday season, and is only required if you would choose to keep your poinsettia after the holiday season.
  • Once the colored leaves of your poinsettia have fallen, you have the option of discarding the plant or keeping it for an additional year. If you chose to keep and rejuvenate it for the following year, there is a whole protocol to follow which requires repotting, fertilizing, pruning, keeping it in total darkness, etc. Given this lengthy process, you may choose to discard the plant for compost.

With the proper care, you will be able to enjoy your poinsettia for the holiday season. Have fun picking out your plant, and make having a poinsettia a holiday tradition for your personal decorating as well as gift giving.

Contributed by Dave Warren, Hershey Nursery.