Caring for the Poinsettia after the Holidays
Is the poinsettia plant you received over the holiday season still hanging on, a little faded but alive? What to do now that the holidays are over?
Here are tips to care for a poinsettia after Christmas so you can enjoy your plant year after year.
Keeping Poinsettias All Year
Who does not love the poinsettia? After the holidays, do we keep the plant or toss it? After all, they will be available next year, like the colorful mums brightening gardens and nurseries every fall. Caring for poinsettia plants after Christmas is possible but they will require attention.
How to Care for a Poinsettia
Poinsettia care begins with suitable growing conditions. A poinsettia already placed in a nice, warm sunny window that is free of drafts, is well on its way. It should receive at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.
For repeated blooming of your poinsettia, the plant also needs day temps between 65 and 70 degrees F. and slightly cooler at night, though keep it above 60 F. to avoid leaf drop.
A normal watering routine should continue until spring around the first of April, then allow it to dry gradually. By the middle of April or May or if your plant becomes leggy, cut the stems back to about 4 inches above the soil and repot in a larger container. Use a fresh, sterile potting mix, noting that you can remove faded or dried parts of the plant at any time. Water thoroughly and then put the plant back in a sunny window. Check periodically to make sure the plant has adequate moisture. Water again only when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.
When new growth appears, feed with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every couple of weeks according to instructions.
In the early summer, when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 F., you can place the plant outdoors in its pot in a slightly shady location. Allow the plant to get more light until finally giving it full sun. Continue watering and fertilizing the plant as you have been doing.
Trim again as needed in around the first to middle part of July, pinching about an inch of terminal growth from each stem. Perform another pruning towards the first part of September. Trim off two to three inches to promote side branching, allowing 3 or 4 leaves to remain on each shoot.
By this time, it should be getting cool enough outside, 55-60 F. to necessitate bringing the plant indoors near a sunny window. Once again, maintain similar indoor temperatures as before (65 to 70 F.) and continue watering and fertilizing.
Rewards are coming
Here is the best part of all your efforts - blooms in time for Christmas. Poinsettias require short day lengths to bloom and form those colorful bracts. Begin keeping your poinsettia in complete darkness for about 12-14 hours from the first part of October until Thanksgiving – for an 8 to 10-week period. Simply stick it in a closet or cover with a large box every evening and then return the plant to its sunny window during the remainder part of the day.
By Thanksgiving, you should be able to stop the dark period altogether, placing the plant in a sunny area for at least six hours daily. Reduce water and fertilizer. Then, by Christmas, your blooming poinsettia, with a bit of luck, will be the centerpiece of holiday decor and ready to begin the cycle anew.
There is no guarantee that your poinsettia will bloom again even with the best care, but it is a challenge and certainly worth a try.
Homescape Now hopes you found our tips helpful. Feel free to contact us anytime for guidance and assistance with indoor and outdoor gardening.