The poinsettia, with its vibrant red bracts, is a beloved symbol of the holiday season, bringing a touch of festive cheer to homes worldwide. While often associated with Christmas, a poinsettia can be enjoyed throughout the year with proper care.
With a little care and attention, you can easily care for your poinsettia past the holidays and enjoy its beautiful foliage for many months to come. In this blog post, we will discuss how to care for your poinsettia after the holidays and how to encourage it to bloom again next year.
Poinsettia, botanically known as Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a native Mexican shrub that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. The plant’s colorful bracts, often mistaken for flowers, are actually modified leaves that surround the inconspicuous true flowers.
Poinsettias typically bloom from December to February, but with proper care, they can be encouraged to rebloom in subsequent years.
Colors of Poinsettia
Poinsettias are primarily known for their vibrant red bracts, which are often associated with the Christmas season. However, poinsettias actually come in a wide variety of colors, including pink, white, orange, yellow, and even purple.
Caring for Your Poinsettia
Here are some general care requirements to keep your poinsettia thriving during the holidays and beyond:
Water your poinsettia when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Allow excess water to drain freely, and never let the pot sit in water.
Poinsettia plants prefer moderate humidity levels. Mist the leaves regularly or place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity around the plant.
Poinsettia plants need bright, indirect light to thrive. Place your plant in a sunny window, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves.
Poinsettia plants prefer warm temperatures, between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Avoid placing your plant near drafty windows or vents, as cold temperatures can damage its leaves.
During the growing season, fertilize your poinsettia every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Avoid overfertilizing, as this can harm the plant.
After the holiday season, prune your poinsettia back to 4-6 inches from the soil line to encourage new growth. This will also help maintain a bushy and healthy shape.
If your poinsettia is rootbound, you may need to repot it in the spring. Choose a pot that is one size larger than the current pot and use fresh potting mix.
Poinsettias need well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. This type of soil allows for good air circulation around the roots, which helps prevent root rot. Poinsettias also prefer soil that is rich in organic matter, such as peat moss or bark.
Rooting stem cuttings is the most common method of propagation for poinsettias. It is also the easiest and most reliable method.
The best time to take cuttings is in the spring or summer, when the plants are actively growing. For either method, choose healthy, disease-free stems that are 4 to 6 inches long. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a node, which is the point where a leaf attaches to the stem. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting, leaving only the top two or three.
Propagation by stem cuttings in water
Place the cuttings in a clear glass or jar of clean water, ensuring that the bottom 2-3 inches of the stems are submerged. Change the water every 2-3 days to prevent bacteria growth.
Then, place the glass or jar in a warm, bright location, but avoid direct sunlight. A windowsill that receives indirect sunlight is an ideal spot.
Propagation in soil
Propagating in soil starts the same as water, but then dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone. This is optional, but it will help it to root. Plant the cutting in a pot of well-draining potting mix. Water the soil thoroughly and place the pot in a warm, bright location. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
With proper care, the cutting should root within 4 to 6 weeks. Once the cutting has rooted, you can gradually acclimate it to full sun and begin fertilizing it regularly.
Encouraging Poinsettias to Bloom Again Next Year
If you want to enjoy your poinsettia’s beautiful red leaves again next year, you will need to encourage it to bloom. Here are a few tips:
Poinsettia plants are short-day plants, which means they need 12-14 hours of darkness each day to bloom. From September to October, you will need to cover your poinsettia with a dark cloth for 12-14 hours each night.
Once your poinsettia starts to show signs of new growth, you can start fertilizing it every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Pinch back the tips of the stems every few weeks to encourage bushier growth.
With proper care, your poinsettia should bloom again next year. Enjoy its beautiful red leaves all throughout the holiday season!
More About Short-Day Treatment
Poinsettia plants are short-day plants, which means that they need long periods of darkness to produce their colorful bracts. This is because in their native habitat, Mexico, poinsettias would typically bloom in the spring, when the days are shorter.
To simulate the decreasing daylight hours of fall, you will need to give your poinsettia a period of short-day treatment. This involves covering the plant with a dark cloth for 12-14 hours each night from the end of September to the beginning of October.
Short-Day Treatment How To
Here are the steps to give your poinsettia a short-day treatment:
- Choose a dark cloth or box that will completely cover your poinsettia. A large cardboard box or a black cloth will work well.
- Begin the short-day treatment on October 1st. Cover your poinsettia with the dark cloth at 5:00 PM each night and remove it at 7:00 AM the next morning.
- Continue the short-day treatment for 6-8 weeks. By the end of this time, your poinsettia should begin to show signs of bud formation.
- Once the bracts start to color, you can stop the short-day treatment. Your poinsettia should continue to bloom for several weeks.
Additional Short-Day Treatment Tips
Here are some additional tips for giving your poinsettia a short-day treatment to encourage new blooms:
- The darker the covering, the better. A black cloth will work better than a light-colored cloth or box.
- Make sure the covering is completely opaque. No light should be able to get through.
- Avoid placing the covering near vents or heat sources. This could disturb the temperature and disrupt the short-day cycle.
- The nighttime temperature should be between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do not fertilize your poinsettia during the short-day treatment.
- Keep your poinsettia away from drafts and direct sunlight.
By following these tips, you can give your poinsettia the short-day treatment it needs to produce its beautiful red bracts.
Additional Poinsettia Care and Growth Tips
Here are some additional tips for caring and growing poinsettia:
- Avoid placing your poinsettia near fireplaces or other heat sources, as dry air can damage its leaves.
- If you notice any pests or diseases on your poinsettia, treat them immediately.
- Poinsettia plants are poisonous to pets, so keep them out of reach.
Poinsettia is a beautiful plant that can be enjoyed for many years to come with proper care. By following the tips in this blog post, you can easily care for your poinsettia after the holidays and encourage it to bloom again next year.