There’s nothing like a Christmas poinsettia to brighten the season and bring a little bit of warmth to your home when it’s freezing cold outside. If you want your poinsettias to last as long as possible, here are some tips to help you take care of it properly.
1. They Love Humidity
When blooming, poinsettia plants love humid locations that aren’t too warm (between 65 and 75 degrees). A nearby humidifier will help, but isn’t totally necessary. You can also surround them by other plants to keep more moisture in the air. Poinsettias also thrive in bright light, but not direct sunlight.
2. Water Well
Poinsettias like water and should be watered thoroughly, staying just a bit moist. Just be careful not to drown them, and make sure your pot has good drainage. Also, don’t let the pot sit in a tray of water, as this can cause root rot.
3. Encourage Re-Blooming
You really can get your poinsettia to bloom again next year! From January to March, keep up the same type of watering and care. In April, you’re safe to decrease the water and let them get dry between waterings. Don’t let the stem begin to shrivel. After the plant gets used to less water, move it to a cooler spot like a heated garage or basement, where it stays around 60 degrees. Mid-May is the time to cut the stem back to about 4 inches, and transplant to a slightly bigger pot with new soil. At this point, water it well and put it back near a bright window, where it stays between 65 and 75 degrees. Keep watering when the soil feels dry.
Keep an eye out for new growth. When this happens, fertilize every 2 weeks with a good houseplant fertilizer. In June, you can move your poinsettia outside in the pot. Keep it in part shade and maintain water and fertilizer. In early July, pinch each stem back by about an inch to encourage a well-balanced, fuller plant (if you don’t do this, it will grow very tall and skinny). Do this again in Mid-August, leaving 3-4 leaves on each of the new shoots. Bring it back inside to your favorite window, and continue with water and fertilizer through early October.
5. In the Fall
To encourage re-bloom, shorten your plant’s daylight hours by 12 hours, and continue doing this for several weeks. Starting October 1st, keep it in total darkness from 5pm until 8am. A closet or storage room is a good place, but make sure NO light is getting in, not even though cracks in the doors. Some use an opaque box or other covering to block light. In the morning, move the plant back to its sunny window, and keep watering and fertilizing. Toward the end of November, you cans to the darkness and let your poinsettia stay in the window. About now, you should start seeing buds.
You can stop your fertilizer around Mid-December, but keep watering as you did when you first bought your plant, keeping it a little moist at all time. Hopefully, you are seeing new poinsettia blooms to enjoy this Christmas.