Once the holidays are over, what should I do with my poinsettia? I hope the plant will be thriving well.
Some basic culture requirements during the holiday season include indirect natural sunlight, at least six hours a day. Direct sunlight may fade the bract, the pretty colored modified leaf. Optimum temperatures are 67 to 70 degrees during the day and 60 to 62 degrees at night. Poinsettias need moderately moist soil, not wet soggy soil or standing water. While in bloom, your plant will not require fertilizer, but to maintain green foliage and promote new growth indoors after the holidays, apply a balanced all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month.
Your poinsettia can be saved to flower again if you follow a few simple instructions. After the plant has passed its stage of usefulness, usually by late March or early April, remove the bracts and part of the stem. This cutting can be done anytime through mid-July, depending on your desired final size and shape of the plant. Leave three or four leaves on each remaining stem. The plant may go outside after any danger of frost has passed. It is best if minimum temperature lows are 55 degrees or higher. It needs to be placed in a shaded area for at least two weeks so it can acclimate. After that, it can be placed in a sunnier location.
During late spring or early summer, you may choose to repot to a larger container. Use any well-drained soil, such as a blend of equal parts sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, or perlite. Mix in a teaspoon of superphosphate fertilizer (0-46-0) per gallon of soil mixture.
Prune any tall growth at approximately six-week intervals to keep the plants shape. The last pruning or pinch should occur before the end of August. This timeline is important to remember to achieve your flowering beauty for the holidays. The poinsettia is a naturally woody plant that can easily be trained into various shapes. Bring the plant indoors before any night temperatures are cooler than 55 degrees.
Indoors, keep the poinsettia in a bright area with constant temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. Continue to water as needed and fertilize every two to three weeks with a complete fertilizer.
Poinsettias are short-day photoperiodic plants, meaning they set buds and produce flowers as the fall nights lengthen. Starting around Oct. 1, your plant will require 14 hours daily of uninterrupted darkness. Stray light, such as streetlights, security lights or pool lights, could delay or entirely halt the flowering process. This dark treatment should last until color starts to show in the bracts, usually around Thanksgiving. It might be simpler to just purchase a new flower each year but not as rewarding as “forcing” your own beauty.
For information on anything mentioned in this article, call Mack Johnson, Extension horticulture agent, with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276, or email at email@example.com.