Come Christmas time, no plant is quite like the Poinsettia. Its vibrant red blooms are simply unparalleled. In the past, poinsettia’s had a reputation for being extremely beautiful yet extremely frail. Recently, however, they’ve shed the “frail” tag that caused people to be somewhat skeptical about buying them. In fact, It’s no longer uncommon to find poinsettias that keep their bracts and leaves intact for 8-10 weeks. These new, more durable poinsettias come in multiple colors as well: white, pink and multicolored bracts.
Keeping your poinsettias alive requires a little bit of planning. You want to put them in a room where they will receive as much light as possible and water them daily. If you put them in a room that gets a bit chillier than usual at night, they will last a bit longer. Still, normal room temperatures should do the job just fine. Do not place them in areas where there are drafts or rapid changes in temperatures. Doing so risks letting their leaves fall early. You don’t need to worry about fertilizing unless you are planning on keeping them for another year; they’ve received plenty of nutrients before arriving at your home.
It is possible to keep your poinsettia alive for an extra year if you so desire. Do not expect it to be of the same size and quality as it was originally, however, since it will be spending its days in a home instead of a greenhouse.
In late April or early May cut the plant back to 3-5″ above the soil and repot into new soil. Repot one plant per pot, using a soil mixture of peat moss or organic matter with inert material such as perlite or vermiculite. You can also use our packaged Bumper Crop Gardener’s Gold. Water thoroughly after repotting and place in a window in full sun or outdoors if the danger of frost has passed.
When new growth is an inch or two long, begin to fertilize using a soluble type as for houseplants such as fox farm big grow . Growth of the plant is rapid and to prevent it from becoming too tall it is necessary to prune out the tip. This is first done when the new growth is 4-5″ and after it has again grown several inches. We do not recommend pinching or pruning your plants after early September, because you want to set the buds. If you do prune after early September, the plant will likely bloom after Christmas if it has the proper light sequence.
In late September, when temperatures go below 60 degrees at night, bring the plant back inside. This is where things get challenging. In order for the poinsettia’s to flower and create the red bracts that the plant is famous for, it needs to be placed on an extremely strict day and night light cycle. The plant needs to receive 8-10 hours of daylight, followed by complete darkness for 14-16 hours. You cannot allow even the slightest bit of light to touch the plant. Doing so will result in green foliage. To prevent accidental lighting at night, the plant should be placed under a box or put into a dark closet each evening from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. The plants are not as light sensitive once color is showing on the bracts.
Poinsettias are not the only option for beautiful flowers throughout the Christmas season, but they are an excellent choice! If you have any further questions on how to make the most of your poinsettias this holiday season, be sure to ask us! We’d be glad to help.