Nothing says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. Bold and beautiful, the poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has bright petals that contain small flowers of green and yellow at the center. Poinsettias come in a range of colors from white to orange, but are most popular in their red variety.
The poinsettia plant is native to Central America where it was used by the Aztecs for decorative and medicinal purposes. Today the poinsettia serves as a decorative element everywhere from beautiful churches to the porches of homes. In order to keep its bright and cheery appearance the poinsettia must be given proper care.
That is why we have created a poinsettia care guide for those that want to decorate their homes this holiday season. We have even included tips on how to re-bloom your poinsettia once the holiday season has passed.
How to Care for Your Poinsettia
Poinsettia plants grow best during the winter months, which is why they are the most popular potted plant during the holidays. And, with good care, a poinsettia plant can maintain its beauty for much longer than the Christmas season. Since poinsettia plants are from the tropics, they prefer surroundings that simulate that type of environment. Here are some tips on how to keep your poinsettia beautiful year round.
Because poinsettias are from the Central America, they are used to a fair amount of sun. We recommend placing yours by a well-lit window, so that it can receive the proper amount of sunlight. East-facing windows are best so that they can catch the morning’s glow and bask in the afternoon’s shade. Make sure that no part of your plant touches the window pane, as this may harm the poinsettia.
How often do you water a poinsettia? You should water your poinsettia whenever you feel the soil is dry or you see that some of the leaves are wilting. The key is to let the water drain out the bottom, and make sure that your poinsettia is not sitting in water. If the area you are keeping your poinsettia in tends to be dry, you may find yourself watering it daily.
To maintain your poinsettia bloom, keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to protect them from dramatic temperature drops as this will cause their leaves to prematurely wilt. For best results, keep your poinsettia in a warm room and mist it daily. This will simulate the tropical climate that it originated from.
How to Rebloom Poinsettias After Christmas
Re-blooming a plant is never easy and re-blooming a poinsettia plant is no exception. While this can be done, it requires greenhouse-like conditions with hands-on care. Do not worry if you are unable to get your poinsettia to rebloom your first time. It is a tedious process that requires lots of care and patience. Here are some tips on how to re-bloom your poinsettia, broken down month by month:
- January – March: Continue to water your poinsettia whenever you find that the surface is dry.
- April: Begin gradually decreasing the amount of water that you give your poinsettia. You should allow the soil to get dry between waterings. However, you want to avoid allowing the stem to shrivel up as this is a sign that it is dying. After a week or two has passed, move your poinsettia to an area with no sunlight (like a basement or garage) and keep the plant at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- May: In mid-May, re-pot your your plant with new soil, making sure to cut back the stems to about four inches. Then, place your plant in a nicely lit window and water it well. Your plant should be kept at a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and should be fertilized every two weeks.
- June: Now, keeping your poinsettia in its pot, move it outside into a partially shaded location. Continue the same watering and fertilizing process as before.
- July: Begin pinching back each stem about one inch. This is done with your hands and forces the plant to grow new stems and prevents it from growing too tall and lanky.
- August: Continue pinching new stems and leaving three to four leaves on each branch. By mid-August, bring your poinsettia plant back inside. Place it in a window with direct sunlight and continue the same watering and fertilizing routine.
- September: Make sure your plant’s temperature stays above 65 degrees Fahrenheit and continue watering and fertilizing your plant regularly.
- October: Now comes the really hard part. Starting October 1st, keep your plant in total darkness from 5p.m. to 8a.m. We recommend putting your poinsettia in a closet to avoid any light seeping in. Any sort of exposure to light can delay the blooming process. During the day, place your poinsettia in a sunny window and continue the regular watering and fertilizing process.
- November: Continue the above process until the last week of November. Once you reach the last week, you should begin to see flower buds. During this time, you can stop putting your plant in complete darkness and just keep it in the well-lit window.
- December: About mid-December, you can stop fertilizing your plant. If everything went as planned, your poinsettia should be back in bloom and you can begin caring for it like you did when you first got it.
It is important to note that because poinsettia are mildly poisonous plants, it is recommended to keep them out of a child or pets reach. Now that you know the basics of poinsettia care, get started on taking care of yours now. They work great as centerpieces or as a unique way to incorporate floral into your holiday décor!
This article was republished with permission.
About the Author: Alexandria Heinz enjoys writing on a variety of topics including gardening and interior design. When she's not writing at FTD Fresh, she can be found at the beach or hiking.