Poinsettias are one of the most popular holiday plants in the United States. LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings tells how to make a wise choice when selecting one.
The main attraction of poinsettias is their colored leaves, called bracts. An ever-increasing range of colors is available – from the traditional red, to white, pink, peach, yellow, marbled and speckled. There are now poinsettias with purplish and burgundy foliage.
When selecting poinsettias, Owings says to look for plants with fully mature, thoroughly colored and expanded bracts. Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges. An abundance of dark, rich-green foliage is a vital sign of good plant health. Look for plants with dense, plentiful foliage all the way down the stem.
Proper proportion of plant height and shape relative to container size is also an important key to an aesthetically pleasing poinsettia. Plants should appear balanced, full and attractive from all angles. A generally accepted standard is that the plant should be approximately 2 1/2 times taller than the diameter of the container.
Select plants with stiff stems, good bract and leaf retention and no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping. Be wary of plants displayed in paper, plastic or mesh sleeves. A poinsettia needs its space; the longer a plant remains sleeved, the more the plant quality will deteriorate.
Examine the soil of the plant. It is best to avoid waterlogged soil, particularly if the plant appears wilted. This could be a sign of irreversible root rot. When transporting the plant, protect it from chilling winds and temperatures below 50 degrees F. Re-inserting the poinsettia into a sleeve or a large, roomy shopping bag will usually provide adequate protection for transporting the plant home when it is cold and windy.
For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture