Caring for Poinsettias

Poinsettias make up for 85% of potted plants sales during the holiday season. Lastyear poinsettias amounted to $220 million in sales in the United States alone. Poinsettias are grown in all 50 states, with over 100 varieties available. Most poinsettias are grown from cuttings, these cuttings are stuck in mid to late summer and are grown to full mature plants in only a few months. This is best selling flowering potted plant in the United States, over 75 million sold and most within a six week period. The most popular color sold is red followed by pink and then white.Poinsettias are not poisonous if eaten, however some people may get a skin irritation from the milky sap. After you make your selection, make sure the plant is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can be damaging to this fragile tropical plant. When getting the plant home carefully unwrap it, place it in indirect light. Six or more hours of light daily is ideal. Keep your poinsettia away from warm or cold drafts; it likes daytime temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees and and night time around 55. Check soil for moisture, do not leave plant dry to wilting this tends to drop leaves sooner. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into saucer. Discard excess water in saucer these plants do not like to be water logged.A fresh poinsettia is one on which little or no pollen is showing on flower cluster in the center of the bracts. Plants that have shed there pollen will soon drop there colorful bracts. Most poinsettias are bought as seasonal annuals, if you are going to try to keep this plant after the holiday start fertilizing this plant after it stops blooming. Fertilize once a month with a water soluble houseplant fertilizer. Move poinsettia outdoors when danger of frost is passed. Place in a sunny area but were it will get moderate shade in the afternoon. To get the plant to re flower you will have to keep it in total darkness between 5pm and 8am. Starting around October 1 and continue until color shows on the bracts.