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Gardening

How to Care For Your Poinsettias Beyond the Holidays

This sensitive plant is not for those who lack time and patience!

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Photography: Shutterstock (main)

When you think of Christmas, one image that may come to mind is a lush pot of red poinsettias. Treated around the world as the official plant of the holiday season, the fame of poinsettias actually comes from a Mexican legend of a girl named Pepita, who, with no money to spend, offered the Baby Jesus weeds at the church's belen. The weeds were said to have miraculously transformed into the poinsettias we now know of, earning the name "Flores de Noche Buena.”  

How to care for poinsettias 

Poinsettias do enjoy a good sun soaking, but if you're planning to place them outdoors and keep them all year round, make sure that they're in an area that's not directly under the sun. Philippine summers can be very harsh, and as this plant is sensitive to sudden and extreme environment changes, hot days can easily dry it up. 

When indoors, don't put your poinsettia near air conditioning vents, as this may dry it out.

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Water your plant when the soil feels dry, but make sure that it doesn't soak. You'll also need to prune it regularly, especially after it has flowered, to help its new nodes grow.  

Check out the video below to see where exactly you should start cutting.  

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Why do poinsettia leaves turn red? 

Yes, the red parts are not flowers, but leaves, which are more specifically called “bracts”, or leaves “from the axil of which a flower or floral axis arises,” as defined by Merriam-Webster. The bracts turn pink or red when there's a lack of heat and light.  

If you want to have your plant turn red in time for the holidays, you'll need to give it around 12 hours of total darkness a day for six to eight weeks. Do note that even artificial lamps can keep it from “blooming", so make sure to place it somewhere devoid of light—or cover it in a box to create “short days”, as shown in the video below.  

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Poinsettias are not beginner-friendly plants. In fact, because they need a lot of attention, some people just opt to replace their poinsettias yearly, instead of working on them. There is, however, an immense amount of satisfaction in mastering this plant's quirks and successfully propagating it year in and year out. If you've got the patience and the dedication, then poinsettias can be the gardening challenge and joy you've been waiting for.  

Sources: Reader's Digest, Gardening Know-How

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