Poinsettia Care Tips
Poinsettias are the quintessential Christmas plant. Their bright-red and vibrant green hues are the colors most people associate with Christmas, and their flowers are much in demand during the holidays.
However, poinsettias are fragile plants, and by the end of Christmas, some of them get so bruised and damaged that most people just consign them to the garbage bin. Getting a decorative plant is an investment and with proper care, you can have poinsettia plants that last more than a season.
Poinsettias love the sun. After all, they are subtropical plants. Choose a sunny window facing south, east, or west as the north side of your house doesn’t get too much sunlight. During fall, make sure that it gets exactly twelve hours of darkness each day. Try covering them in a black plastic sheet at night. The darkness helps it grow. Keeping them in the sun will keep them from growing buds.
To keep the poinsettia blooming, a constant temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Avoid exposing them to drafts or sudden changes in temperature. Dried-out or thin poinsettias are a sign of changes in weather, and being subtropical plants, they won’t appreciate a sudden change of climate. A greenhouse is perfect for growing poinsettias. If you don’t have one, your basement would make a good substitute.
Water and Fertilizer
Too much water will drown your plant. After the holidays, don’t forget to water the poinsettia, but decrease the amount by April. If you want it to bloom again, add some fertilizer. Regular doses of water and fertilizer will keep your poinsettia alive and well through the summer, but avoid adding fertilizer to the soil during the holidays.
Potting, Cutting, and Pruning
After putting the poinsettia on display for the holidays, there will be dried-out leaves and stems everywhere. Take the plant out of its sleeve, and put in a decent-sized pot. By mid-May, cut back the stems by around 4 inches. Cut the stems by another inch in early July. The stems should have grown branches and leaves by August, so cut the new stems again. Be sure to leave three or four leaves on each shoot. This is the last cutting you’ll do until the next spring, so this is very important.
A poinsettia in bloom is a happy poinsettia. It’s not easy, but if you take good care of it, you get the chance to see it bloom the following year.