Five things to know about poinsettia plants | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

‘Tis the season to gift someone a poinsettia plant, according to Marianne Binetti.

The first week of December is Poinsettia season. Giving a living plant is a thoughtful gift for someone that doesn’t have the space to store holiday decorations.

Living gift plants can go into the compost or recycling bin at the end of their season. Meanwhile they give off oxygen, improve air quality, are free of calories, don’t need to fit a certain body type and you don’t have to remember to spend them like gift cards. A gift plant can be enjoyed by everyone that walks into a room.

Five Things to Know about Poinsettia Plants

1.) Buy a poinsettia now – or as early as you see them for sale. The new varieties hold their color for months so there is no reason to wait until it is closer to the holidays. Giving a poinsettia early not only allows more time to enjoy the winter color but also spreads the giving and getting of a gift over the entire season instead the frantic last few days before Christmas.

2.) Poinsettias will get root rot if they sit in drainage water. Remove the foil or poke drainage holes into the bottom of a foil wrapped pot. Use a saucer to catch drainage water but them empty it after the plant drains.

3.) Poinsettias hate the cold. Don’t leave a potted poinsettia in a cold car or unheated garage or you could find it dropping leaves and giving you the cold shoulder.

4.) You don’t need to fertilize your poinsettia plant. A plant in full bloom will remain colorful for months (see number one). Too much plant food can cause burning on the leaves of your poinsettia and foliage drop.

5.) Poinsettias come in many colors – be creative.

Gold poinsettias wrapped in blue foil can say “Happy Hanukkah.” Give candy canes with poinsettias that display read and white leaves. Use white and cream colored poinsettias to add class to modern interiors by displaying them with silver or gold metallic accents.

Hanging poinsettia baskets add drama to an entry way or room with cathedral ceilings. There are tiny poinsettias that can fit into a coffee mug and make great “cubicle gifts” to dress up an office.

A chorus line of poinsettias can run up a staircase to put on a really big show and if you don’t have real flames in your fireplace fill the vacant space with pots of poinsettias. Poinsettias are adaptable house plants as long as you keep them away from extremes of heat and cold and don’t let the soil dry out.

Here is a misconception to correct about poinsettias. They are not poisonous plants. Some people are sensitive to the milky white sap of the cut stems (it can give a skin rash) but poinsettia plants are safe to use around pets and kids.

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