Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How To Make Holiday Poinsettias Last Beyond The Season

(StatePoint) Choosing a healthy plant and taking good care will keep your flowers blooming until Valentine's Day.

"Poinsettias tend to be the most vigorous plants with proper care, lasting in some cases through the summer months," says Richard Cowhig, assistant professor of ornamental horticulture at Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania.

Look for large, well expanded bracts -- the colorful blossom-like leaves of the plant. "The yellow centers are the true flowers," he says. "They should be showing a faint trace of pollen. Too much pollen is a sign of an old plant."

"Choose a plant with strong, sturdy branching of secondary shoots," adds Cowhig. "There should be leaves down to the soil line, with no leaf yellowing, which can be caused by diseases or poor nutrition."

Keep your poinsettia warm -- above 55 degrees Fahrenheit -- and in its sleeve until you get it home. Plants will be happiest in a home that's between 60 and 68 degrees, away from heat and drafts.

Give them as much light as possible, turning the plant around several times a week. Water uniformly so that a little water runs out the bottom of the pot.

"Plant breeders have worked on plant quality," says Cowhig. "Your poinsettia should hold leaves and bracts for a long time. With the right care, you can enjoy its festive foliage into the New Year."

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