Agri Leader

Plant your poinsettias after Christmas

Poinsettias are as much a part of the holiday season as Santa Claus and Christmas trees. While many people enjoy decorating with these brightly colored plants, most simply pitch them out after the holidays are over. However, poinsettias make a lovely addition to any home landscape setting. Our mild central Florida winters are ideal for establishing these beautiful, crimson plants. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and have long been used in winter celebrations. This plant was named after Joel Poinsett, who first brought the plant into the United States in 1825. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonoius, although the sap can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. Caring for your potted poinsettia is fairly simple. These tropical plants do best in bright light and away from drafty areas. Poinsettias do not tolerate very wet soil, so be sure to only water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Misting your plant with water every so often will improve its health and vigor. Be sure water doesn't pool in the saucer to prevent root rot. While in the pot, your poinsettia will not need fertilizer.
After the holidays, you can plant your poinsettia outdoors. While there are many colors, the red variety usually is the easiest to transplant. It is best to plant your poinsettias outside after the threat of frost has passed. A sunny location that doesn't have any artificial light source is your best bet. To flourish, these plants require moist, well-drained soil and a layer of mulch after planting. After plants are well-established, prune during growing season. Cut back to 18 inches of the ground. Most poinsettias produce new buds in October. Like any other plant, poinsettias are susceptible to pests and diseases. Poinsettia scab is a common problem in Florida poinsettias. A fungal disease, poinsettia scab causes circular lesions on leaves and stems of infected plants. Plants growing in poorly drained soils are at an increased risk of contracting fungal diseases. You should also monitor your poinsettias for signs of insect infestation. Some common invaders are mites, aphids, whiteflies, scales and mealybugs. In our growing area, hornworms can defoliate plants in short order. If you find yourself dealing with these pests, chemical control products are necessary to reduce injury. The secret to raising beautiful poinsettias lies in purchasing healthy plants from a reputable nursery. Poinsettias brighten up our holiday decor inside and out. With a little tender-loving care, your plants can give you pleasure for years to come.