Poinsettias

Poinsettias, are traditional Christmas flowering plants that will bloom for several weeks and help to brighten the house in the dark, colder days of winter. With proper care, your poinsettias can last throughout the year and bloom again next holiday season.

Selecting Your Poinsettia

Select a healthy and well cared for Poinsettia that has dark green foliage. Yellow or damaged leaves indicate poor handling or fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem. The colorful flower bracts (red, pink, white or bicolor pink and white) should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.

Christmas Care

For maximum plant life, place your poinsettia near a sunny window or well-lit area. Poinsettias are tropical plants and are usually grown at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees in greenhouses, so they should be happy and healthy in your home.

When the soil in the pot feels dry, water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot and discard the excess water.

Late Winter and Early Spring Care

Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers - they should bloom for several months. Side shoots will develop below the flowers and grow up above the old flowering stems. To create a well-shaped plant for the following year, cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems or branches - new growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils. Apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Late Spring and Summer Care

If the plant becomes too large for the old pot, repot it using any of common peat moss and vermiculite/perlite potting soils available at any nursery.

After the danger of spring frost is past and night temperatures exceed 50 degrees F, sink the poinsettia pot to the rim in the ground in a well-drained, slightly shaded spot outdoors. Remember that the plant may need to be watered more frequently than the rest of your garden. Between 15 and August 1, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving one to three leaves on each shoot and fertilize.

Fall Care

Bring your poinsettia plant indoors at night well before the first frost. The poinsettia can be placed in a sunny window, or even back outdoors in the daytime when temperatures are warm.

To re-flower your poinsettia for the holidays, keep the plant in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily from the end of September until color shows in the leaves (early to mid-December). The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees F.

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