Your poinsettia should remain in bloom for many weeks after Christmas if you give it proper care. The best thing you can do for your poinsettia is to give it plenty of sunshine. It will thrive if given at least four hours of direct sun each day. Keep it out of drafts from heating vents and doorways. Feel the soil before you water your poinsettias. It should be dry to the touch when the plant needs water. Do not let the plant sit in water. Do not fertilize until Spring. To prolong the bright color of the bracts, temperatures should not exceed 72 F during the day or 60 F at night.
Keeping your poinsettia green and healthy is easy. Getting it to bloom again takes a bit more work. If you follow the instructions below you should be able to enjoy blooms again next Christmas.
|December-February||Plant is in full bloom. Water as needed|
|February-March||Color fades. Start fertilizing when new growth appears.|
|March||Remove flowers and cut stems back to six inches. This will cause many side shoots to grow and help keep your plant compact and bushy.|
|March-June||Repot now, if necessary. Put plant outside in light shade when weather warms up.|
|July||Pinch all side shoots back to four inches. The cuttings can be rooted, if desired.|
|Late August||Take plant inside to sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.|
|September 20-December 4||This is the critical step! Keep plant in a sunny window from 8:00am until 5:00pm. From 5:00pm until 8:00am, place the plant in complete, uninterrupted darkness (in a closet, under a box). Even a brief exposure to light during the night can throw off the whole process. Water as usual.|
|December 25||Show off your beautiful home grown poinsettia to all your friends.|
The assigned botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. The United States' first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, sent several plants back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina in 1825. The common name, poinsettia, comes from his last name.
The poinsettia is not a poisonous plant. Research at a major university has proven that the poinsettia is not lethal to humans or pets. However, your poinsettia and all house plants should be out of reach of small children since varying degrees of discomfort may be experienced if plant parts are ingested.