Tuesday Tip: Post-Holiday Poinsettia Care
Windsor, ON - Following the holidays, many toss their festive poinsettias aside, but according to St. Clair College Horticulture Faculty Sandy MacDonald, the traditional Christmas plant can be enjoyed year-round.

"If kept in a good growing environment, the attractive bract colour can last for at least a couple of months," says MacDonald. "And once the weather is frost-free and milder - later in May - they can be summered outdoors."

MacDonald suggests placing the poinsettia on a South or West facing well-lit windowsill - Southwest is optimal - and making sure the space is not too cold or draughty.

Sandy MacDonald with Poinsettias
Horticulture Faculty Sandy MacDonald poses with a few
remaining poinsettias in a greenhouse on campus.

"Evenly moist soil is the objective," explains MacDonald. Poinsettias should be watered whenever the surface is dry. "The plants are pretty drought resistant, but if they wilt and get too dry, lower leaves will often yellow and drop."

Poinsettias are also at risk of withering if they get cold-chilled or are placed in darker conditions. MacDonald says a room temperature above 15-17 °C is best.

A common misconception about poinsettias is that they are dead when they lose their lower leaves.

"They have the ability to regrow lots of new shoots to develop a full plant again," says MacDonald. He warns that overwatering kills poinsettias more than nearly anything else.

With diligence, poinsettias can last throughout the year and be re-bloomed for the holidays next year, says MacDonald.

"Choosing a colour such as white, pink, marbled, speckled or burgundy can make them fit into post-Christmas decor a bit easier," suggests MacDonald. "You will likely end up with a much larger plant and a great sense of accomplishment if you re-flower your plant next year."

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