Native to Mexico, poinsettias are popular plants in the U.S. because they are one of the few plants that bloom in the winter and happen to have the same colors as Christmas. Known as “short-day” plants, poinsettias need long, dark nights for their leaves to change colors. The colorful bracts are actually leaves and not blooms, and while the most common color is red, there are poinsettias that come in colors of white, pink, cream, salmon, and even speckled.
Poinsettias are a wonderful way to brighten up your home during the winter, and with the proper care, they can continue to do so throughout the year. Here are tips from the floral experts at Conklyn’s Florist for giving our poinsettia year-round care:
Poinsettias will thrive in sunny windows that get a minimum of 6 hours of indirect, bright light every day.
Protect poinsettias from cold temperatures, especially when you are transporting them home. Keep them away from cold drafts and keep the daytime temps between 65-70 F and nighttime temps between 55 – 65 F.
Water poinsettias only when the soil feels dry 1-2 inches down. Ideally, the soil should be moist and not soggy. It’s important the plant has a pot with adequate drainage. Poinsettias are susceptible to root rot so prevent them from sitting in standing water.
Once the leaves begin to drop, scale back the watering to allow the plant to get drier between waterings. This will lull the poinsettia into its rest period. Keep the plant in a dry and cool (around 60F) location.
After all the leaves have dropped, cut the stems to between 4 and 5 inches tall. Continue to water as you have been and begin fertilizing weekly with a half-strength solution. Around May, the plant will begin to leaf out again.
During the summer when the weather has gotten warmer, you can move your poinsettia outside. Find a partially shaded warm area to put it and enjoy it all summer long.
To keep the plant compact and full-looking, pinch back any new growth around the middle of July to stimulate branching.
When the weather begins to cool down around September, move your plant back indoors and find it a nice sunny window. Water and fertilize like usual.
In the first week of October, your poinsettia will now require at least 14 hours of complete darkness each night until the end of November. Absolutely no light can get in during this darkness period or the blooming process will get off course. Place your plant in a dark closet or put it under a thick cardboard box. During the day, allow the plant to soak up at least six hours of sun.
By the time Christmas comes around, you should have a fully re-bloomed, lush poinsettia to cherish for the season. Care for the plant as you did last December and get ready to start the process all over again.
If this seems like a bit too much effort, don’t sweat it! Go ahead and toss your poinsettia each year like most everybody else. This way you can feel good about supporting your local florist by purchasing a new one from them each year.