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Flourishing Poinsettias

Flourishing Poinsettias

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Poinsettias do not flourish for three major reasons. Light is essential. Their native environment is under the hot sun of Mexico. Prior to the time we get them, they are growing in full sun in a greenhouse.

When they are relegated to dark sales displays and then to homes or offices they receive less than 10 percent of the light they normally get in a greenhouse. Low light levels make plants susceptible to other growing problems. Counteract the problems by giving the plants as much light as possible.

The native tropical environment of these plants indicates the next potential problem. Winter creates many challenges in dealing with these plants. They are perfectly comfortable at normal room temperatures. If they have a daytime regime of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit they flourish and have no difficulty growing.

The first major problem comes from transporting the plants. From the greenhouse to the store is the first major shock. A far more serious problem is the transport from the store to the end user. I cringe when I see unwrapped plants carried outside in subfreezing temperatures. These tropical plants do not need to freeze to be damaged. They usually react by dropping their leaves.

The final major problem is water. Too much or too little causes equally serious problems. Occasionally plants wither in the transport or selling process. They respond by dropping their leaves.

More serious problems arise once the poinsettias arrive at their destinations. Although these plants are tropical, they will not tolerate wet feet. They are extremely sensitive to root rot and quickly die when overwatered. Remove foil wrapping or other leak-proof liners to prevent water from collecting in the pot.

Anything that keeps the plants standing in water is fatal. Despite sensitivity to several environmental factors, the poinsettia remains a favorite Christmas decoration. They will last far beyond the holiday season and can be rebloomed the following year if you are willing to spend the time and effort to keep plants that long.

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Larry A. Sagers


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