Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
Holiday plants bring much needed ‘sunshine’ into our homes during winter. Poinsettias, perhaps the most popular Christmas plants, provide so much color for so little. I love getting some to put in a large basket on my fireplace. They add a sparkle that nothing else can. All the plastic fake flowers in the world do not do what the real thing can which is to add a living breath of life to our winter décor.
Poinsettias come in so many colors and sizes, even different shapes. They are nearly always in a plastic sleeve (the colorful wrap) and can be used as is or in groups of greenery, in baskets, or plant stands. Wherever you choose to put them, they will shine.
Now for some tips on keeping them looking beautiful all through the holidays and beyond. Poinsettias do not like drafts and they despise being kept too wet. Do not place them near a door that is frequently opened, the cold air can wrinkle their leaves. Check for water needs often, but water only when they are fairly dry. Do not keep them wet. Those little plastic covers will hold in whatever water may run off when you water; so off with the cover, water in the sink, then allow the plant to drain well before returning it to the cover. Place poinsettias in very light sunny areas. They need light to maintain a robust form. If you need to use them in dark areas for special parties, or gatherings—-fine, just remember to return them to a well-lighted place. You may have a lamp that you could use to give them light in an otherwise dark corner. If you see leaves dropping, you are either keeping them too wet or too dry—–too wet probably. Too warm a room will also cause them to drop leaves.
With minimum care, poinsettias will endure long after the holidays. Sometimes people will try to keep them for the next season. They will often live for years, but seldom will you get the glorious color. They ‘bloom’ in winter since they come from Mexico where it’s cool but not cold in winter; so we could never expect them to color up for us this far north. You can plant them in the yard and they will live through some winters, but will not show color. It is best to discard the plant after winter, grab a pot of tulips or daffodils and welcome spring into your home.