"In fact, some varieties
can retain their beauty for several months," said Susan Grupp. "And
while traditional red is the most common color, there are other
colors worthy of consideration. While many of us are accustomed to
seeing red, pink or creamy white varieties, breeders have also
introduced other choices. Two-tone selections, such as various
mottled patterns of red and pink or pink and white, have become
popular. There are even yellow, peach, burgundy and dark purple
All the varieties, though, have common needs, she
"You should start by taking the time to choose a healthy,
high-quality plant," Grupp said. "Look for plants with foliage all
the way down to the pot rim. All foliage should be a nice, dark
green. Avoid plants with yellowing leaves or wilted leaves. Inspect
the plant on all sides and find one that is well-balanced and full."
The maturity of a plant can be determined by looking closely at
its flowers, she added. The colorful "flowers" are really a
combination of bracts -- specialized leaves that color up during
shorter day lengths -- and cyathia, the true flowers, which are
bead-like structures located in the center. These bead-like
structures should be green or red-tipped. Older, mature flowers have
yellow pollen and may not last as long.
Avoid plants that are displayed in paper or plastic sleeves or
crowded tightly together. They tend to deteriorate too quickly, she
[to top of second column
in this article]
"Some poinsettias are tropical; they must be protected from cold
temperatures," Grupp said. "They should be properly wrapped before
leaving the store. During very cold weather, ask to have them
double-wrapped. Never leave them in an unheated vehicle.
"Once home, be sure to remove the protective sleeve immediately.
Place your plant in a bright sunny spot in the house, taking care to
avoid drafty locations. Do not allow them to touch cold glass
windowpanes. Keep poinsettias away from radiators and other heat
sources. Poinsettias will do best in daytime temperatures of 65-70
degrees and night temperatures around 55 degrees. High temperatures
tend to shorten the plant's life."
Grupp said that proper watering is also important. Check the
plant's soil daily. When the soil surface beings to dry, it is time
"Remove any protective or decorative pot cover and water the
plant thoroughly," she said. "Water should drain freely from the
pot. If water collects in a saucer or decorative pot liner, be sure
to empty it right away. Do not allow the plant to dry completely.
This will cause wilting and leaf drop.
"While the plant is in bloom, fertilizer is not needed."
[University of Illinois news