The holiday season means it’s time for poinsettias, and people can expect poinsettias to last well into 2015 if they give proper consideration to selection and care, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

Poinsettias are available in a tremendous variety of leaf — or bract — colors, including red, white, marble, pink and combinations of these colors.

Points to consider when purchasing poinsettias include the size and number of the colored bracts.

“They should be large and extend over the lower green leaves,” Owings says.

The number and size of bracts usually dictate plant price.

A premium-quality poinsettia usually has at least six bracts and should have more. Inspect the lower green leaves when you’re buying poinsettias. They should have good appearance and extend over the rim of the pot.

Drooping leaves may indicate problems.

The most important observation is to inspect the green flower parts, called cyathia, in the center of the bracts. These flower parts indicate display life, Owings says.

Plants with large cyathia showing yellow pollen and sap will have the least amount of display life left.

Plants with smaller cyathia, little to no pollen and no sap will have the longest display life.

A poinsettia should last for four to six weeks in the home with proper care, Owings says.

Select a location that receives some sunlight. Interior hallways are a poor location, and don’t place a poinsettia near a ventilation system or in a drafty spot near a doorway.

As for watering, Owings says to allow the soil surface to dry out thoroughly before watering with warm water.

Just the soil surface should be dry to the touch before watering again.

Upcoming events

The AgCenter will host a poinsettia show and sale from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday, Dec. 5, at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge.

More than 1,000 poinsettia plants will be on display and for sale that day, with prices ranging from $8 to $12, depending on size.

Those attending the open house will be asked to vote on their favorite new varieties. “This will guide me and my research team on which ones to evaluate,” says Botanic Gardens director Jeff Kuehny.

Proceeds from the sale go to fund research at the Botanic Gardens.

For additional information, contact Michelle Miller Fuller at (225) 763-3990, ext. 2.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.