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Here's how to keep your holiday poinsettias alive

Poinsettias are a holiday staple. Here are some tips and tricks on how to best care for them.

DENVER — There are so many plant choices for the holidays, but nothing is as spectacular as a poinsettia. The poinsettia originates in Mexico (in Spanish it is called Flor de Nochebuena, the Christmas Eve flower) and was introduced to the U.S. in 1828 by America's first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett. The plant was then named in his honor.

No longer just the traditional red, there are now a variety of poinsettia colors that you can use in any of your holiday traditions.

Credit: KUSA
Poinsettias come in a variety of colors.

I promise, they aren’t difficult to care for. Because poinsettias are native to warm, humid weather, they are sensitive to significant changes in temperature. Even here in Colorado they are grown in a warm, sunny, humid greenhouse. When you bring your plant home, make sure it’s wrapped in a frost protector so that it doesn’t go into shock just getting into your car for the drive home.

Once home do not leave it to drown in it’s decorative foil cover. At the very least cut a hole in the foil and place the plant on a tray to catch any excess water. 

You can also turn it up a notch and use your poinsettia in a centerpiece or arrangement using houseplants and fragrant herbs. Pop your poinsettia into a decorative pot, choose a larger pot for an arrangement or use a basket (I always line mine with a plastic bag to catch excess water).

Care for your centerpiece properly so you can enjoy it well into the new year. Don’t place it in direct sunlight from the window – it’s too intense. A warm, bright room is a perfect spot. Keep poinsettias away from heat vents and provide them with a little humidity by spritzing them with a spray bottle or  by placing pebbles in your drip tray for the excess water to evaporate. 

The number one rule for care is don’t over or underwater! Check to see if the soil is dry to the touch or carefully lift the plant. If it feels light, it’s time to water.

While it is possible to save your poinsettias year after year, Rob and I don’t go to all that work. However, a shout-out to my mother who is on year four with a poinsettia. She places it outside in her garden during the summer, brings it back in when it turns cold, and on cue, it is turning red again. I give her high marks for that!

I hope these tips and ideas help fill your holiday home with more living plants. There is always more room for plants!

Credit: KUSA
A beautiful red poinsettia.

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