Poinsettia Care 101: The Essential Guide

by Melissa Jones | October 09, 2019

Poinsettias received their name in the United States in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant into the country in 1828. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. He sent cuttings of the poinsettia plant he had discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, SC. The word Poinsettia is traditionally capitalized because it is named after a person.

Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant and are sold within a six-week period leading up to that holiday, representing $60 million in value.

Poinsettia.oct2019 Poinsettias have become such a universal symbol for Christmas that many people don’t realize that they are tropical plants. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were found in the wild — in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa, down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. Since Poinsettia plants are from the tropics, they prefer surroundings that simulate that type of environment.

With care and attention to detail, you can create a stylish display that showcases these fiery crimson beauties, while retaining their splendor for the entire season.

Arrival

• Poinsettias must be protected in shipping with proper packaging and sleeving during transit. The plants must be unloaded immediately upon arrival.

• Poinsettias are very susceptible to chill damage, so never leave shipments out on a cold dock nor refrigerate them.

• Poinsettias should be unpacked immediately upon arrival. If this is not possible, the boxes must be opened, or the tops cut off to allow the ethylene gas to escape. If the box is not opened, the ethylene gases that the Poinsettias release inside the box will suffocate the plants, causing them to droop and become limp. This process is not reversible.

Poinsettia bracts are fragile and if the plants are handled roughly, bruises in the form of black or white marks will develop on the bracts.

Temperature

• After un-sleeving, display plants untouching in a 65-75F degree room with plenty of light.

• Temperatures above or below 65-75F might result in shortened bloom life or rotting roots.

• Do not expose poinsettias to temperatures below 50° F.

Protect poinsettias from dramatic temperature drops, as this will cause their leaves to prematurely wilt. For best results, keep the plants in the proper temperature and mist daily. This will simulate the tropical climate from which they originated.

Watering

• The top half of the soil should be allowed to dry before watering.

• Test the soil hydration daily by sticking your finger into the potted soil, about one inch deep.

• Remove the plant from any decorative container before watering and allow the water to drain completely.

Over-watering quickly kills Poinsettias. Do not allow the plant to sit in standing water. This will drown the plant, causing the leaves to drop and become yellow. Once this process starts, it will continue to work its way up to the top of the plant.

Poinsettias with dry soil will automatically drop their flower buds located in the center of the bract.

Display

• Poinsettias must be stored and displayed out of coolers and refrigerated areas.

• Displays should be located out of drafty areas or away from excessive heat.

• Display in bright, indirect light.

• Older, damaged poinsettias should be removed from the display, as these will detract from the rest of the display.

Melissa Jones is an experienced mass market and e-commerce buyer with over 15 years in the industry.

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