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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Caring for your Poinsettia

The traditional flower of Christmas is a poinsettia. In fact December 12th is also Poinsettia day. Poinsettia Day was declared by an Act of Congress in 1851 to honor Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first Ambassador to Mexico. Poinsett had brought the colorful plant to his plantation in Greenville South Carolina. The plants were commonly given out as gifts to friends.

Mexican folklore shares a story about a poor little girl who had nothing to bring to church for Christmas. One her walk to church she picked some plants by the side of the road. When she entered the church the leaves at the tips of the branches turned into bright brilliant red flower. These flowers were poinsettias.
Caring for your poinsettia plant
Starting with a healthy plant is the best if you are wanting to keep the plant for the next year. Examine flower before purchase, look for plants that have dark green foliage along the entire lengths of stems with leaves that are not wilted. The red leaves should be completely colored and bright. Ensure there is no insect infestation
Replanting your poinsettia into a larger container is a normal step. Transferring to a larger container will give the plant more room so that it can expand. It is best to use fresh high quality potting soil to give your plant a hand up which the rich soil will offer.
Poinsettias have a reputation of being very dangerous. They are not as toxic as many think they are but are mildly irritating to people's skin and stomach if ingested. It is best to keep pets and small children away from the plant to avoid unwanted contact.
Poinsettias love sunshine but are sensitive to extreme temps. So they do best if they are not directly in sun but ensure they are not next to the heater or drafty window. A temp between 65 and 80 degrees during the day and around 60 at night are the temps that help poinsettias to thrive and decrease shedding of leaves.
Watering poinsettia's correctly help ensure a long lasting life. Poinsettias are native to warm temp areas such as Mexico and Central America. To help poinsettias thrive in a dry home mist your poinsettias with water from spray bottle. Let the soil dry out between watering and then water thoroughly with watering can. Check soil moisture by sticking your finger into the soil every couple of days. When soil is dry down to the first knuckle on your hand it is time to add water but ensure that you do not add to much. Layering pebbles at the bottom of the tray helps keep the plant out of water and increases the humidity around the plant
Fertilize the poinsettia plant every 2 to 3 weeks. A general all purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer used at half strength is a good choice

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