Braving the throngs of shoppers and endless hours out in the cold is fun for some, but not if you’re a poinsettia. On the single biggest day of sales for the colorful seasonal symbol, getting stationed by drafty doors and dragged out into parking lots means only one thing: today is Black Friday.
Keep yours from becoming the ghost of Christmas present with a few tips for selection and care from Dr. Steven Newman, Greenhouse Crops Extension Specialist and Professor of Floriculture at Colorado State University:
- Choose plants with branches held high, at an approximately 60-degree angle, instead of at right angles from the stem. Poinsettias have sensitive branches, which can be snapped off easily. Upright branches are far sturdier and less likely to be damaged by transportation or accidental brushing.
- Look for poinsettias with deep green leaves and completely colored bracts, which is what experts tell us is a sure sign of health. Bracts that are not fully colored will not continue to develop at home.
- Avoid poinsettias that have been placed near the door to the store. The repeated draft of cold air is stressful for the plant. Look further in, where the conditions are warmer.
- Cover the plant with boxes or a plastic bag to get them from the checkout to your car. Try to hustle them as quickly as possible through the parking lot, and pop them into the auto before you unload the rest of your purchases.
- Driving them home in a chilly car wouldn’t hurt — they can take up to 45 minutes at temps between 50F and 60F.
- Once home, put the poinsettia in bright, indirect light and water to keep evenly moist without water logging. If the container is wrapped with foil, remove it when watering to allow drainage. Don’t let your plant sit in standing water; discard the water that flows from under the pot.
- While in bloom, there’s no need for fertilization. But after the holidays, keep your poinsettia green and growing by applying a balanced all-purpose house plant fertilizer once per month.