What do I need to know about taking care of a poinsettia?

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Keeping a poinsettia plant alive and thriving past the few weeks of the Christmas season is a bit of a challenge.  Knowing a few things about them helps.  Poinsettas like lots of bright, indirect sunlight and temperatures in the low 60's (which can be a bit of a challenge during the cold winter months.  However, they will, of course, live in a home that keeps the temperature a little warmer than that.  They are very sensitive to extreme temperature changes, so beware of placing them next to a door that will open and let in a blast of freezing air from outside.  They also thrive in humid conditions, which do not usually exist in a home heated with central heating.  Because of this, it is helpful to mist your plant a bit daily.  You don't, however, want to let your plant stand in water.  If water is not absorbed from the saucer within an hour or two of watering, be sure to pour off the excess water.  Let it dry out between waterings.  Be sure that it has proper drainage.  (Be sure to either remove or to cut the bottom out of the decorative paper that usually surrounds the plant when you buy it.  If you don't, water will be trapped inside the paper and the plant will drown.)  Most people just enjoy the plant over the holiday season and then discard it.  There are ways to keep your poinsettia over a season and have it bloom again the following year.  However, that is a subject for another time.

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