Christmas Gardening Gift plants Houseplants

Unwrap Your Poinsettia Without Delay

Yes, do make sure your poinsettia is well wrapped against the cold when you bring it back from the store, but don’t leave it in its packaging. Source: http://www.alphapackaging.co.uk

If there is normally no problem leaving plants purchased for Christmas in their wrapping for 4 or 5 days, that’s not the case with the popular Christmas plant known as the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), often offered as a hostess gift during the holiday season. This plant produces ethylene, a toxic gas, and begins to poison itself in as little as 16 hours if there is no or little air circulation, especially at warm temperatures (over 60˚ F/16˚ C).

20181207A www.hydro-orchids.com.jpg
Bracts and leaves can be damaged if left wrapped too long. Source: http://www.hydro-orchids.com

The main symptom of ethylene damage is wilting. When you remove the wrapping, the bracts and leaves look wilted even though the potting mix seems reasonably moist. Soon bracts and leaves start to fall off and the plant, although it is not yet dead, is no longer very presentable.  

If you plan to offer a poinsettia as a gift, either buy it the same day you plan to give it or, if you have to buy it in advance, unwrap it immediately when you get home, then rewrap it just before you leave.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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