Northwest NEWS

December 13, 1999

Home & Garden

poinsettias

How to take care of poinsettias

   Native to tropical Mexico, poinsettias were first brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett, a noted botanist and the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

   Naturally blooming at Christmas, they have become a holiday tradition. The brightly-colored parts of the poinsettia are actually not flowers, they are instead specialized leaves, called bracts, which form immediately prior to the appearance of the tiny flowers.

   Thanks to extensive hybridization, there are now numerous colors of poinsettias from which to choose. Molbak's grows over 36 different varieties!

   Light: To keep poinsettias thriving, they require high light. However, if you intend to keep them just through the holidays, they can be placed in the lower light of a room's interior.

   Water: Thoroughly water poinsettias when the soil feels dry to the touch and before the plant wilts. A poinsettia will lose its lower leaves if it is allowed to wilt. When watering, continue to add water until it runs out the drain holes. Remember to remove all water that accumulates in a saucer in order to prevent the roots from decaying.

   Fertilizer: To retain a poinsettia's bright colors, Molbak's recommends waiting until early spring to resume fertilizing poinsettias. Thereafter, apply fertilizer during the months of March through October.