Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Whether you received a poinsettia as a gift or bought it as a holiday plant, there are some things to you can do to keep it looking better longer. With proper care, the color can last for several months.
Poinsettia plants need about six hours of indirect or filtered light a day. This can be sunlight or supplemental indoor lighting. For best results, avoid direct sunlight if possible by using some sort of a thin curtain.
For best results, the plants should be fertilized with a water soluble fertilizer on a regular basis after it quits blooming. I usually use half the strength that is recommended on the fertilizer package.
Keep the plant out of drafts, including cold and hot ones. Remember this is a tropical plant. It dislikes cold temperatures. For this species, that means anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The bracts will not keep their color as well in overheated rooms. The optimal indoor temperature is about 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Proper watering is an art. You can tell if your poinsettia needs watering by touching the potting soil. If the surface is dry, then it needs watering. Water it properly. This means adding enough water so that it comes out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
After you water, do empty the saucer that is below the pot. When you are keeping the poinsettia in a cache pot, remove it from the outer pot to water it. After watering, drain all the water out of the plantís pot and set it back into its cache pot. If your pot has a decorative pot wrap, either remove the wrap to water the poinsettia, or punch some holes in the wrap so the water can drain out.
From time to time, a poinsettia that is grown indoors year-round may need repotting into a slightly larger pot. This is needed when it becomes large enough to be pot bound.
In tropical climates, the poinsettia can actually be planted outdoors as a shrub. When choosing a garden spot, remember this is not some tiny little perennial but a real shrub.