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What Are the Best Tips for Caring for a Poinsettia?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Poinsettia plants are often associated with the winter holidays, but, with proper care, it's possible to enjoy them all year. Caring for a poinsettia is relatively simple, and it's even possible to get them to bloom again each year. An important tip for poinsettia care is that, in most climates, the plant should be kept indoors to ensure that it has the proper temperature and conditions. A few tips to remember when caring for a poinsettia plant include protecting them from too much cold, providing the appropriate amount of light, and avoiding over-watering. In order to try to make the plant bloom, the amount of time spent in darkness can be manipulated to simulate the natural conditions during the blooming season.

As a symbol of the winter holidays, poinsettia plants are commonly seen that time of year, but are relatively rare during other seasons. Although they are associated with cold weather in many people's minds, poinsettia are native to Mexico and need a warmer temperature in the winter than would be found outdoors in many areas of the world. When caring for a poinsettia plant, the best place to keep it is actually indoors where temperature and other conditions are easier to control. Even though they make lovely outdoor decorations, the cold winter temperatures are very damaging to the plants.

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There are several other tips that should be kept in mind when caring for a poinsettia. The ideal temperature range for the plant is 60° to 70° Fahrenheit (15.5° to 21.1° Celsius) during the day and about 55° Fahrenheit (12.7° Celsius) at night. Temperature extremes aren't good for the plant, so it shouldn't be placed on or near heaters or cold windows. It's a good idea to keep the plant in a spot where it gets indirect sunlight for at least six hours daily.

Another important poinsettia care tip is to make sure that the plant gets the right amount of water. It should be watered on a regular basis, and the soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. The plant needs drainage, so make sure that the pot has drain holes or create some if they're absent. It also should not be kept standing in a dish of water; once the excess water has drained out, it should be removed.

The colorful blooms on a poinsettia plant are actually specialized leaves known as bracts, while the true flowers are the tiny red or green blossoms that appear in the center. Another interesting tip for caring for a poinsettia is that it is possible to encourage it to bloom again each year, also known as forcing. To do this, it's necessary to simulate the light conditions that the plant would experience in nature during the winter blooming season by placing it in cool, completely dark place for at least 12 hours nightly. If winter holiday blooms are desired, this schedule should be followed starting in late September or early October.

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