Poinsettias and other plants for Christmas

Red poinsettia plant in wood vase isolated on white

Question: What can I do to keep my poinsettia from dropping petals shortly after I bring it home?

Answer: The red poinsettia has become as much a symbol of Christmas as the Christmas tree. Red is still the most popular color, but now there are shades from white to deep purple and everything in between. New colors and combinations of color are available every year. To see the full range of possibilities you will probably need to go to a greenhouse or florist.

One reason poinsettias have become so popular is that they are so long lasting. With proper care they will last more than a month.

Proper care starts when you bring the plant home from the store. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold temperatures. Even temperatures in the low 40’s can cause leaf or petal drop. If it is a long distance from store to car, cover with a bag or sweater. You may need to warm the car up if it has been sitting in below freezing temperatures for an hour or more.

More poinsettia plants are damaged by over watering than under watering. Check the soil with your finger to see if it is still moist on top. Apply enough water so a little runs out the bottom of the pot. Do not let water accumulate inside the foil wrap. You may remove the wrap or make holes in it so the water drains into a saucer or the sink, or turn the plant upside down to drain water a few minutes after watering.

Blasts of cold air from a nearby door to the outside may damage poinsettias. Plants touching a cold window may also be damaged.

Don’t worry about poinsettias being poisonous. They have been tested repeatedly by universities to de-bunk this old myth.

Other plants which make good Christmas flowers include azaleas and anthirriums with heart shaped flowers. The star pine is a tropical tree that looks like a miniature Christmas tree. It can be decorated just like a Christmas tree. Dish gardens contain several plants, often including both foliage and flowering plants.

When you are invited for a holiday dinner or party, consider taking a plant or cut flowers as a gift. They will bring pleasure to your friends longer than food or drink.

Allen Wilson can be contacted at allenw98663@yahoo.com.