Hundreds of experimental poinsettias in colours of pink, red, white and even polka dot patterns, fill the University of Maryland Research Greenhouse Complex in College Park, Md., in 2003. (Matt Houston/AP photo)

Hundreds of experimental poinsettias in colours of pink, red, white and even polka dot patterns, fill the University of Maryland Research Greenhouse Complex in College Park, Md., in 2003. (Matt Houston/AP photo)

A Gardener’s Diary: Caring for Christmas poinsettias

Columnist Jocelyne Sewell offers points of care to keep Christmas plants cheery all year

As I write this, we only have a little dusting of snow and I am not complaining.

The weeds are still alive in the garden.

I was able to pick a few leaves of arugula, which is quite nice for December.

Time to check on the tubers that we are storing for winter. If they look too dry, just mist them a bit.

They should not touch each other and if you find some mouldy ones discard them before it spreads to the others.

Protect poinsettias from temperatures under 50 F (10 C).

Chilling causes the leaves to drop.

Place plants in a room where there is sufficient natural light. Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright indirect light to thrive.

Never allow them to sit in water and only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers or open doors and windows.

Ideally, poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70 F (16 C to 21 C) and nighttime temperatures around 55 F (13 C). High temperatures will shorten the plant’s life.

Check the soil daily.

Water plants thoroughly after purchase.

Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer and discard excess water. Water when soil is dry.

Wilted plants will tend to drop bracts sooner.

Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season.

Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom.

With good care, a poinsettia will last six to eight weeks in your home. With a little extra care, it is possible to keep your poinsettia year-round and have it bloom the following Christmas.

This is what I read on the Internet about waxed amaryllis: “these brightly coloured waxed amaryllis bulbs are self-sustaining and require minimal care, making them the perfect gift for anyone on your list.

No soil. No water.

The waxed bulb contains all the nutrients it needs to bloom. It can be placed ANYWHERE (since no sunlight is required!) and will stand directly on any flat surface or can be displayed in a decorative container of your choice.

At average room temperatures, it can be expected to bloom for about three weeks.

This is a single-use Amaryllis, and it will not bloom again in subsequent years.”

This is my last column for 2020. I will be back in February.

At this time, I would like to wish a very peaceful and thankful Christmas to everyone. In this season of joy, don’t forget the less fortunate. On this special day of Christmas, may the light of baby Jesus shine in your heart and every day of your life and keep you safe.

For more information call 250-558-4556; email

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