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Volume 15, Issue 51 ~ December 20 - December 26, 2007

Keep Your Poinsettia Cozy

Winter’s chill will wilt your Christmas blooms

Keep Christmas in bloom by shielding your poinsettias from sudden drops in temperature. Remember, poinsettias are a tropical plant, so a sudden chill — from room temperature to below 40 degrees — can cause the plant to quickly lose foliage, including the red or white bracks.

Exposing poinsettia plants to temperatures of 36 degrees can result in freeze-damage to foliage. Within 24 to 48 hours after being exposed to such low temperatures, tissues between the veins in the leaves will appear water soaked and turn black-green. Once the damage has occurred, there is no recovery.

To keep your poinsettia warm, avoid placing it near doors or windows that are likely to be open, exposing plants to cold air.

If you purchase a poinsettia on a cold and blustery day, have the clerk protect the plant with a paper or plastic sleeve, stapled at the top to prevent heat loss. The last thing you want to do is grab an unprotected plant and make a run for the car on a cold day. Risk such a mad dash and you are likely to arrive home with a leafless potted plant.

If you think your poinsettia may have been chilled while in transit, leave the plant in the sleeve for a few hours once in the house. Allowing your new poinsettia to acclimate slowly can minimize damage in borderline cases.

Keep your poinsettia looking fresh by checking the moisture of each pot daily. Press your finger into the growing medium, halfway between the stem of the plant and the wall of the pot. If the medium feels cool and moist, there is adequate moisture; If it feels warm and dry, water thoroughly. A large pot with several poinsettias will require watering more often than a pot with only one plant.

Add water until it flows through the bottom of the pot. If water flows immediately through, the medium is too dry to absorb liquids. Soak the pot in a basin or pail of warm water for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain the plant before returning it to its place of honor.

Avoid over-watering, as poinsettias are very susceptible to root rot.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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