Did you get a poinsettia? You’re not alone. Poinsettias are the No. 1 best-selling potted plant in the United States and Canada, totaling more than $250 million in sales each holiday season.
How do you keep these festive plants looking their best? Here are tips on poinsettia care from Auburn, Calif.’s Eisley Nursery, a source of many local gift plants:
— Poinsettias will last longer if placed in a warm sunny location away from heating vents or drafts. Poke holes in the foil wrapper for drainage and place the potted plant on a plate or saucer.
— Place potted poinsettias indoors in indirect light. Six hours or more of light (natural or fluorescent) is best.
— Keep them comfortable, ideally between 65 and 75 degrees, day or night. Lower temperatures will make them drop leaves almost immediately and shut down. Higher temperatures also shorten their life cycle.
— Limit their exposure to outside temperatures; they can’t take any chill for extended periods. If using potted poinsettias for a porch display, place them outside just before your guests arrive. Don’t leave them outside overnight.
— The red, yellow or pink bracts are actually modified leaves (not flower petals), but they’ll retain their color long after the true flowers — those little yellow knobs — brown and wither. When choosing a plant, look for tight flowers that haven’t opened. The plant will keep its color longer.
— Check the soil daily. Water the plant when soil feels dry to the touch, but don’t let it get soggy. Allow water to drain into the saucer; discard excess water. Wilted plants tend to drop bracts sooner.