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Best Care for Poinsettias

Q. How can I make my holiday poinsettias last as long as possible?

A. Purchase a healthy plant that does not appear to have any disease or insect problems, and wrap it carefully before you bring it home. Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold air from drafty windows or doorways, as well as heat from air vents, radiators and fireplaces. Poinsettias will drop their leaves if exposed to chilling temperatures.

Try to give your plant six hours of bright, but not direct, sunlight (understandably, not always possible in December). The color of the bracts will remain stronger if temperatures remain between 65 and 70 degrees. Water the plant when the soil has just begun to feel dry to the touch. Poinsettias prefer a slightly moist soil. Allow all water to drain out of the pot, and be sure the plant never sits in water because its roots will rot quickly. When the plant is in bloom, it is not necessary to fertilize it. If you are interested in keeping your plant all year and attempting to force it to rebloom next season, contact the Plant Information Service at (847) 835-0972 or check the January Gardening Checklist on this Web site.