In the nearly two centuries since it was introduced to North America, the poinsettia has become a symbol of Christmas and the holiday season. Follow these steps if you wish to keep your poinsettia over the summer to enjoy again next holiday season.
General Poinsettia Care
Follow these tips after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, or when the plant starts to look a little tired (whichever comes first):
- Water less (about once a week) after the blooms and leaves drop or shrivel. The plant needs this rest period after its blooming season.
- Cut back the stems to half their size in March or April. When new growth begins to appear, it is safe to resume a more normal watering and feeding schedule. Use regular houseplant food and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Move the plant outdoors when the outside nighttime temperatures rise above 55° F.
- Provide light, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight.
- Plant the poinsettia in the ground or leave it in the pot if you wish. Repotting may be necessary at the end of summer after the plant has grown. If the poinsettia is planted in the ground, you can expect a shrub-like plant during the summer.
- Pinch back new growth in June, July or August to promote a bushier plant.
Tips to Make Your Poinsettia Bloom
Here is the tricky part - getting your poinsettia to bloom again.
- When fall temperatures begin to drop, bring the plant indoors.
- From October 1 to December 1, (or for at least 40 days) a poinsettia will need a strict light/dark regimen to produce color. Provide 13 to 16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily. At dusk, place the plant in a dark room (or closet) or cover with a box or paper bag. At dawn, move or uncover the plant to allow 8 hours of sunlight.
This is a pretty labor-intensive process, but if you are lucky, you will have a healthy, colorful plant for the holidays.