With proper care, the poinsettias that decorate your home during the Christmas season can retain their beauty for many weeks. For best results, choose plants with deep, dark green foliage and full, undamaged colored leaves, also called bracts. The actual flower is yellow and is located at the base of the bracts. Plants with tightly-closed flowers that have not yet shed pollen will last the longest in your home.
Poinsettias do best in the sunniest part of the home, and need continual bright light to ensure proper growth. Avoid placing a poinsettia near cold drafts, radiators and heat vents. To keep the color of the bracts bright, maintain your poinsettia between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperature prolongs bract color, but don't allow it to dip below 50 degrees.
Water poinsettias thoroughly as needed. If your poinsettia is wrapped in a decorative foil, punch holes in the bottom of the foil to ensure proper drainage and removal of excess water.
For long-term maintenance of a poinsettia plant, use a complete fertilizer of equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium every two weeks. To encourage your poinsettia to re-bloom and obtain the shape you want, prune the plant in early June. At the end of September, place plants in total darkness for 14 hours daily. Colored bracts should begin to appear in early November and be fully expanded by Thanksgiving.
Contrary to popular belief, the flowers and leaves of poinsettia plants aren't poisonous, nor are they edible.
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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013