Poinsettia Plant: Care and Growing Steps
In March or early April, prune the plant back to about 8 inches in height. Three or four green leaves should remain on each shoot. Prune off any remaining colored bracts. (What look like flower petals are actually bracts. The real flowers are the yellow berrylike clusters in the center.) Keep the plant in your sunniest window, water it regularly, and feed it with diluted fish emulsion or kelp extract every two weeks from now until fall.
In June, transplant the poinsettia into a pot 2 to 4 inches bigger than the present one. You can keep it indoors, but the plant will grow more vigorously if you put it outdoors in full sun. Or you can plant it directly into the garden in a sheltered place if you live in an area where nights consistently stay above 50°F year-round. Poinsettias need soil rich in organic matter, such as compost or leaf mold. Every third week or so, pinch the shoots back to two or three fully grown leaves. Do this until mid-August. Then bring the plant indoors before night temperatures drop below 55°F. Put it where it will receive at least six hours of sun and cut back on fertilizing for now.
Now here’s the tough part: Poinsettias won’t flower unless they are kept in total darkness for 14 continuous hours per night for 8 to 10 weeks. Even momentary exposure to a streetlight or flashlight can delay or inhibit flowering completely.
Starting October 1, keep the plant in a closet or an unused room at night or cover it with a box or heavy paper bag. The plant should stay in the dark from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Nighttime temperatures shouldn’t fall below 60°F. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it will need full sunlight, with daytime temperatures around 70° to 75°F. Keep watering and begin the feeding schedule again. After 8 to 10 weeks, the bracts should be flushed with color. Congratulate yourself on your patience and dedication, and give your rejuvenated poinsettia a place of pride in your holiday decorating!
Poinsettias Add To The Christmas Cheer With Colors
Poinsettia is a plant generally affiliated with the Christmas season. This plant will add colorful bracts brightening your decorations.
The color spectrum of the poinsettia is truly remarkable. Colors range from red to white to even maroon. There are bicolored, speckled and marbled poinsettias.
While buying the poinsettias it is better to be well aware of the wide variety available. Take your time to select the very best. Poinsettias are fragile plants, and the stems can break quite easily from mishandling.
Growers and florists have been using poinsettias in combination containers in recent years. Poinsettia combination containers sometimes feature contrasting colors, such as snow white chrysanthemum with the traditional red poinsettia.
Here are some of the very useful care tips to help keep your poinsettia looking good long after the Christmas holidays.
Poinsettias need at least six hours of indirect sunlight daily and comfortable room temperatures. When grown in the greenhouse, temperatures are about 72 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. The closer you can provide to these same temperatures, the longer your poinsettia will last.
Don’t let the leaves or bracts touch the window glass. Outside temperatures are readily transferred through the glass, and the cold can damage the plant. A poinsettia might look great by the front door when guests arrive, but it will perform better if it is shielded from the sudden temperature changes caused by open doors.
While poinsettias like cool temperatures, those below 50 degrees will harm the foliage and colorful bracts. So on the way home after purchasing your plants, be sure to have the new poinsettias carefully covered, taking care not to break any branches and stems.
Never overwater poinsettias as they are sensitive to wet feet, and root rot will set in very quickly. The potting mix should feel dry to the touch before watering and be sure the decorative sleeve has drainage holes.
If you are sensitive to the milky, latex sap in the poinsettia you could develop a skin rash. To avoid this problem, always wash your hands after handling your poinsettia.