There’s no plant more popular this time of year than the poinsettia — except perhaps the Christmas tree itself! If you’re the lucky recipient of one of these room-brightening flowers, keep it lush and lovely through the season—and beyond — by following these tips:
1. Poinsettias like full sun, so keep them near a light source, but sheltered from drafts. If you set your poinsettia on a windowsill, place a piece of cardboard between the plant and the window at night to protect it from chilly air.
2. Water your plant regularly and thoroughly, but don’t ever let it stand in water.
3. If your poinsettia’s foliage starts to yellow, the plant is probably not getting enough light or nitrogen, or is being watered too much. Set it in a brighter location, give it a dose of fertilizer, and hold off on the watering until the top of the soil has dried out.
4. Leaves will start to wilt if the plant is too dry or is exposed to a draft. Move it to a more sheltered spot and perk it up with a drink.
To enjoy your poinsettia for another season, stop watering it after Christmas and store it in a cool, dry place when the leaves fall off. In spring, water it again and cut the stems back to 6 inches tall. From early October until blooming starts, place the plant in a dark closet for 12 hours each night, say from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Keep the plant in a sunny window for the other 12 hours a day, and it should be in full color again for Christmas 2015!