PPDL Picture of the Week for
December 3, 2012

Caring for Poinsettias once they have left the Greenhouse

Roberto G. Lopez, Associate Professor & Floriculture Extension Specialist, Purdue University

In order to transport their poinsettia crop to retail locations across the country, greenhouse growers must use paper (Figure 1) or clear plastic (figure 2) sleeves to protect the fragile bracts and branches. These sleeved plants are either placed on shipping racks or in boxes for ease of transport. Upon arrival to the retail location, plants should be immediately removed from their shipping boxes and sleeves to allow for air circulation and for proper watering. Failure to remove the plant from the box or sleeve can expose them to ethylene especially if there are companion plants such as Euphorbia graminea (Figure 3).  Ethylene exposure can result in lower leaf senescence, bract damage and can cause the yellow flowers (cyathia) of the poinsettia and other plants to abscise. Condensation inside the sleeve can also lead to Botrytis cinerea (Figure 4) and plant losses (Figure 5).

Shipping and retail display points to remember:

  • Use sleeves that have plenty of air holes (breathable)
  • Reduce shipping time (less than 2 days)
  • Do not expose plants to temperature below 50 ºF
  • Remember that dark-leaf cultivars ship better
  • Do not display plants in boxes and take sleeves off of plants on carts
  • Display plants properly (away from drafts and full sun or outdoors in cold climates)
  • Do not allow plants to sit in water, pour out water from pot cover
  • Showy displays catch consumers attention
  • Make it easy for consumers to pick out their plants and sleeve them themselves
  • Remove damaged plants and replace them with new ones
  • Provide the consumer with care information

Click image to enlarge

Figure 1. Poinsettia placed in a brown paper sleeve.

Figure 2. Poinsettia placed in plastic sleeves and on shipping racks.

Figure 3. Combination planters of poinsettia and crops such as Euphorbia graminea can lead to ethylene accumulation and flower or bracts senescence.

Figure 4. Close up of Botrytis cinerea on poinsettia bract (photo courtesy of Brian Krug, UNH Extension).

Figure 5. Shopping carts filled with poinsettias that are being disposed of due to damaged bracts from Botrytis cinerea.

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service