With the holiday’s approaching, you may be thinking about getting one of the most popular holiday flowers. The poinsettia’s familiar red color (and other flashier colors) have decorated homes for decades. In addition to their general care, you may wonder what to do with your plant once the holidays are over. Caring for your poinsettia so that they will bloom year after year is a tricky process. For those who are undaunted by the task, here are a few tips for helping your poinsettias rebloom come next year.
Caring for your Poinsettia
Did you know that poinsettias are forced to bloom during this time of year? Because of this, they need some extra care. When you bring your poinsettia home, place it near a sunny window. Poinsettias are tropicals and love light, so a south, east, or west facing window is preferable. To keep them in bloom, maintain a temperature of 65-75 degrees F. during the day. Cold drafts or allowing the leaves to touch a cold window will cause premature leaf drop, leaving you with a couple sad looking leaves hanging on. As for water, water the plant whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. Then water until it drains out the bottom, but do not let the plant sit in water. How often you water depends on the humidity of your home. If your home tends to be dry, you may have to water every day.
After Christmas Care
Bringing your poinsettia back into bloom requires meticulous care on a rigid schedule. Here is a sample schedule of how to rebloom your poinsettias for the next year.
After the holidays, you have a choice on whether you want to maintain your poinsettia as a houseplant or in a dormant state. As a houseplant, keep watering the poinsettia whenever the surface is dry. Keep it at the sunniest window and feed it with fertilizer about every two weeks. Starting April 1, gradually decrease waterings, but be careful that the stem doesn’t shrivel. That is a sign that the plant is stressed or dying. When the plant is used to the drying process, move it to a cool spot and keep it at about 60º F. At this time you can also prune the plant to 6-8 inches tall. In May, cut the stems back to 4 inches and repot it in a larger container with new potting soil. Place the plant in a sunny window and keep it between 65 and 70º F. Continue watering when the surface of the soil feels dry and watch for new growth. When new growth appears, begin fertilizing again.
If you decide to keep your plant dormant, place it in an area with minimal light and reduce water until the leaves dry off. Keep the plant in an area with minimal light that has a temperature between 55-60º. In late March/early April, cut the plant back to 3-5 inches tall and repot it in a larger container and use good, porous, professional potting soil to keep the roots healthy. Water well and start using fertilizer when new growth begins.
In June, move all poinsettias outside. You’ll want to take advantage of the higher light levels. Place them where they will receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sun daily. Protect them from the hottest afternoon sun if they are on a reflective surface. You don’t have to do this if your plants are in a garden bed. If you want to sink your pots into the ground, remember to turn the pots or lift them to prevent the plants from rooting out through the drainage holes. In June or July, increase your fertilizer schedule to weekly. Then in July, pinch each stem by about an inch. This encourages a stout, well-branched plant. If left unpinched, the poinsettia will grow tall and spindly. In August, the stems should have branched and leafed out. Pinch or cut the new stems leaving 3-4 leaves on each shoot.
When the night temperatures start to dip into the 50s, bring your plants inside. Place them back in your sunniest window and continue to water and fertilize regularly. Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning their bud set is affected by the length of daylight. They will need about 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. These conditions need to be artificially controlled in order for your poinsettias to bloom when you want them too. Keep your plant in darkness from 5 pm to 8 am. Any exposure to light, even though a crack or the opening and closing of a door, will delay blooming. During the day, place your plant back in the sunny window and continue watering and fertilizing. The dark/light schedule can stop the last week of November. Simply allow the plant to stay in the window and you should see flower buds at this point. On December 15, stop fertilizing. but keep watering and treat your plant like you did when you first brought it home. If all went well, your plant should have rebloomed and is ready to begin the process over again.
Tis the season! At Bengert Greenhouses we offer holiday poinsettias and holiday wreaths in a variety of colors and sizes. Let us find the perfect Christmas flowers to accent your home! Gorgeous Christmas flowers also make great Christmas gifts for moms, grandmothers, and friends. Send the gift of beauty to everyone you love.