Cold kills holiday plants

Protecting poinsettias and houseplants in transit

Be careful with indoor plants in drafts or where doors are propped open to frigid air.

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Although some indoor plants can handle cold blasts, protection is critical when it comes to newly acquired or relocated plants. Chief among them, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and amaryllis (Hippeastrum varieties), which face big, sudden changs as they travel in-out-in from store to home.PoinsetRWN_a.jpg

Every year a lot of money is wasted because poinsettias become useless as decorations after their leaves turn black. The people involved may never know that it was that trip home from the store through cold air that killed the leaves or stems or both, because the symptoms may not show up for a day or two.

For shame!

Shame on retailers who let this happen. In the winter, indoor plants should be wrapped for the trip between store and car, car and home. If there's no wrapping going on, or plastic is being used as wrappers, say "No thanks." If the staff is ignorant of the need to keep warm air around the plant, they are probably ignorant of its other needs and it's suffered while in stock.

Take a  look:

Professor Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State University co-produces an excellent science-based garden blog and podcast, including an episode with illustrations of cold damage to an Aglaonema/Chinese evergreen houseplant.


Count to five, poinsettia stays alive!


You'll almost always receive better quality and care when buying plants from garden centers, as compared to department stores and grocers. Buy your plants there.
The staff at Ray Wiegand's Nursery in Macomb, Michigan, gave us this demonstration of proper wrapping using paper sleeves.

Photos copyright Ray Wiegand's Nursery.

  1. Drop the plant into a paper sleeve.
  2. If the plant is taller than the sleeve, double up the sleeve.
  3. Now pull the sleeve up around the plant -- the leaves will bend gently up and in.
  4. When there is enough paper above the plant to fold over…
  5. …close the sleeve and staple it.

Other wrappings that work

Tightly closed cardboard boxes or Kraft paper bags (including grocery bags). Cut the bottom out of the inner bag to double-sleeve, or invert bag 2 over the plant and tape the open tops together.

Never use plastic, which has no insulating quality. It can trap some warm air but will transmit cold so that everywhere plastic touches foliage, leaves will be damaged.





PoinsetWrapRWN_d.jpg PoinsetWrapdRWN_e.jpg

Can't protect a poinsettia? Cold can't kill silk, below, which makes a beautiful pseudo-poinsettia.



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