Are you thinking of brightening your home with a poinsettia for the holidays? Or, perhaps you’ve already fallen in love with one and brought it home. Either way, the poinsettia is a lovely plant both for Christmas and year-round, if you choose to keep it, as it’s perfectly capable of living a long life. Plus, caring for a poinsettia plant indoors is easy-peasy. Here’s how to care for poinsettias!
Poinsettia Care Instructions
1. Choose a healthy plant. If you don’t have your poinsettia yet, be sure to pick a healthy one. Signs of health include thick, deep green foliage and firm, colorful flowers.
2. Protect it from the cold when you bring it home. While our North Carolina winter is milder than many, the cold from outdoors could still be a shock to your poinsettia, which is a tropical plant native to Mexico. So when you take it home, protect it from that cold outdoor air by covering it with a cellophane bag or pillowcase.
3. Put it in a sunny, warm place. Like real estate, poinsettia care is all about location, location, location. Once you get your plant home, put it in a spot that’s both sunny and warm.
4. Meet its sun and light requirements. The poinsettia prefers a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. A pro tip: to get the Christmas-time bloom period to last as long as possible, also ensure that your poinsettia gets at least 12 hours of darkness each night. An easy way to remember to meet this requirement is to put the poinsettia in a dark place when the sun sets and return it to its sunny location when the sun rises.
5. Meet its warmth requirements. As already mentioned, the poinsettia is quite sensitive to cold. It’s happiest when it’s in a consistently warm room free of cold drafts and hot drafts, so keep it away from places like the ledge of a drafty window or radiators. Its ideal daytime temperature range is 64 to 70°F, while at night, it’s still fine if the temperature dips as low as 61°F.
6. Water it only when the soil is dry. Poinsettias often fall victim to overwatering. If your poinsettia has leaves turning yellow, that’s a strong sign you’re overwatering the plant. Water your poinsettia only when the surface of its soil has become bone-dry.
When you water it, immediately empty any water that collects in the plant pot saucer, as waterlogged soil is harmful to the plant. One efficient way to prevent waterlog and make the watering process easier is to put the saucer aside, move the plant into the sink, and water it generously. The excess water will then drain out directly into the sink, and you won’t have to fuss with emptying the saucer.
What About Poison Precautions?
Now, what about the stories of poinsettias being poisonous? Is there anything you should do to protect pets and kids from your poinsettia? As it turns out, poinsettias are not poisonous—that’s a myth. However, they’re not edible either, and in fact, are mildly toxic. So even though they’re unlikely to cause serious illness, it’s still best to keep your poinsettia out of the reach of pets and kids.
How to Care for Poinsettia Flowers
Before we answer this, first, an interesting fact: what you might think of as the flower on a poinsettia is not a flower. The colorful non-green parts of a poinsettia are actually bunches of modified leaves called bracts. In the center of the bracts are the diminutive flowers, which look like tiny yellow buds.
So how do you make those bracts last as long as possible?
Holiday Plants at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Whether you’re in the market for a poinsettia or looking for other holiday plants, we have lots available. Contact us so we can check our stock for you and recommend plants that will meet your needs. Happy Holidays!
Even though we experience relatively short winters here in Greenville, NC, preparing our yards for the season is an important task. It might seem unnecessary to spend time and energy into cleaning up the yard just for the cold weather—much of the garden will be dormant, after all—but it’s really valuable for your yard’s overall health. Don’t think about it as prepping your yard for winter, but as equipping it to bounce back as beautiful as ever come spring. Here are essential tasks to add to your garden cleanup guide this fall:
How to Prepare Your Plants for Winter
Since we can escape the chilly temperatures and harsh winds by locking ourselves inside with a warm beverage and a cozy blanket, we often don’t consider the living things that have to withstand those conditions outdoors. Although many of our plants are dormant at this time, dormancy alone doesn’t protect them from irreversible winter damage. Just like you’d bundle up the kids to send them to the bus stop, there are a few ways to keep your plants cozy during the cold.
Water your new plants well into the fall. Just because another hot Greenville summer is over doesn’t mean your plants can quench their own thirst completely. Continue regular watering until temps drop low enough that evaporation from the soil is less of a problem.
Lay mulch around the base of your trees and shrubs, and put down a layer on your garden beds. Whether it’s a layer of shredded leaves, shredded hardwood, or compost, the material will provide the soil beneath with a layer of insulation from the cold. It also helps to retain moisture, which plants still need to supply their roots even during dormancy. Over time, mulches decompose and actually feed the soil, this in turn contributes to a healthier root zone ecosystem. And healthier roots mean healthier plants. Check out our available mulches and use our mulch calculator to see how much you need for your yard. Be careful not to over-mulch, as too much could be a breeding ground for disease.
Prune away any dead or diseased limbs from your shrubs and trees. Damaged branches provide an opportunity for disease to enter and spread. Also, once the leaves drop from deciduous trees, it will be easier to see if any limbs need to be pruned out for shape, crossing too closely to another branch, growing in the wrong direction, or double leaders.
Don’t forget, you can still plant many trees, shrubs, and perennials throughout the winter around here. In the nursery, shrubs and trees are packed together to reduce exposure to cold winter winds. Putting plants in pots means their contained roots are above ground, and they are actually exposed to colder temperatures than in the ground. With winter plantings it is crucial to make sure the root balls are not allowed to dry out. So mulch well and keep up good watering practices!
How to Winterize Your Lawn
Preparing your lawn for winter is just as important as prepping your plants. Proper lawn care before winter will ensure your grass can nourish itself until spring and encourages a lush, healthy lawn next year.
Rake the fallen leaves as they fall. No, that doesn’t mean you need to rake every day, but staying on top of it throughout the season will make it much easier than having to rake and bag your entire landscape at once. Although it’s a time-consuming task, it’s important to either rake or mulch the leaves so that you aren’t leaving a thick, moist mat over your lawn. We doubt we need to tell you how much of a disease hazard that is! Plus, you can make it a kid friendly event—we all know how much the kids love to rake up leaves, just to jump into the piles!
If lime is needed on the lawn, late fall or early winter is a good time to apply it. The drizzling winter rains minimize runoff and the cycle of freezing and thawing helps incorporate the lime into the soil. Lower traffic on the lawn during winter is also beneficial.
As grasses prepare to go dormant for the cold season, we want to avoid encouraging any tender growth that could be damaged by freezing temperatures. So avoid fertilizing warm season grasses, such as centipede, in the fall or winter. For people who are new to Eastern North Carolina and are used to cool season grasses such as Fescue, this is a key difference in caring for your lawn.
You will begin to see winter weeds, such as chickweed and henbit, pop up once temperatures dip. Keep in mind, it is more environmentally friendly to have some tolerance of weeds in the lawn, while still controlling some of them. Be sure to read and follow chemical weed control labels closely. Because weed control chemicals are plant specific, the first step in getting rid of weeds is identifying them. Then choose your control based on the plant. If you need help sleuthing what type of weeds you have, bring them in to the nursery and we will identify them for you! Another great resource is NC State Extension’s Turf Files. Once your weed is identified, use the Turf Files to see chemical control options.
Other Ways to Prepare Your Yard for Winter
Bracing your trees, shrubs, and grass for winter is essential for a healthy landscape, but there are other aspects of your yard that could use some attention during the fall, too. Preparing your yard for winter also includes cleanup and storage of non-living things.
First of all, clean up debris that’s lying around the garden. Put those bags of raked leaves out for pick-up or mulch them and place them in a garden bed, get rid of your plucked annual flowers, and properly dispose of any tree clippings (especially if they show signs of disease).
Next up, store away anything that might be damaged by winds, or items with metal that might rust during the off-season. This includes outdoor furniture, playsets, bikes, garden decor, and gardening tools and appliances. If you want to keep your grill accessible, make sure to cover it with a good-quality unlined cover and keep it sheltered if you can.
Make sure you protect your hoses by disconnecting them and draining any remaining water. Store them in a warm, dry area—freezing temperatures can cause cracks and damage. If parts of your sprinkler system can’t be disassembled and stored, make sure to properly winterize and insulate them so you don’t end up with busted pipes.
Set your yard up for an easy winter by adding these few items to your fall checklist before locking up the shed for good. While you may not see the benefit right away, proper lawn and garden care and general yard cleanup will make a world of difference when the spring arrives to reveal a gorgeous garden this spring. The growing season is busy enough—get yourself ahead now!
Carolina Seasons Nursery