Poinsettias are a popular gift to give and receive this time of year, and a little tender, loving care will keep them looking good for months to come, according to Kansas State University horticulturist Ward Upham.
“Modern poinsettia varieties stay attractive for a long time if given proper care,” said Upham, who is the Master Gardener coordinator with K-State Research and Extension. “Place your poinsettia in a sunny window or the brightest area of the room, but don’t let it touch cold windowpanes.”
The daytime temperature should be 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with 60 to 65 degrees F at night. Temperatures above 75 degrees will shorten bloom life, and below 60 may cause root rot. Move the plants away from drafty windows at night or draw drapes between them to avoid damage from the cold.
“Poinsettias are somewhat finicky in regard to soil moisture,” Upham said. “Avoid overwatering because poinsettias do not like ‘wet feet.’ On the other hand, if the plant is allowed to wilt, it will drop leaves.”
Maintain proper moisture by examining the potting soil daily. Stick your finger about one inch deep into the soil. If it’s dry to this depth, the plant needs water. When it’s dry to the touch, water the plant with lukewarm water until some water runs out of the drainage hole, then discard the drainage water.
More information about plant care – indoors and out – is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and online at http://www.hfrr.k-state.edu/p.aspx?tabid=49.