Do you often wish that if you had replanted those beautiful poinsettias that you got last Christmas, you could have seen them bloom during this holiday too? Well, there is absolutely no need to divest yourself of those plants each Christmas. With real good care, you can keep your poinsettias alive all year round and even force them to bloom during the next Christmas. Following are few tips on growing and caring for poinsettias:
You must pick a poinsettia that is young, healthy and dark green. The shrub should look balanced, complete and attractive. Avoid choosing foliages that were shipped before maturity. You can identify one by its leaves. Leaves with green tinge around their edges belong to such foliages. The plant’s height should be twice its container’s. Foliage with wet soil and one that seems like its wilting, in all probability, has a root rot.
Wrap the foliage in a newspaper before taking it home since mere coldness can cause damage to the plant. Once you get home, remove the paper to prevent its leaves from falling off.
Bright sunlight can damage the poinsettia. Ensure that your plant receives indirect sunlight for about 6 hours daily by placing it behind the window’s screen or curtain. Extreme temperatures, hot or cold, can damage the poinsettia and cause its leaves to fall. Places like television tops, garage and areas near the heating vent or a cool window should be avoided.
Temperature for poinsettias
The plant should be placed in a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees during the daytime and about 55 degrees at nighttime. If necessary, you may even transfer the plant to a cool room during the night.
Water your poinsettia only when the soil is dry. If the plant is still in its foil wrapper, punch holes at the bottom for proper drainage. Mist the leaves of the plant every now and then since poinsettias flourish under humidity. If you observe that the leaves are wilting or dropping, water the plant immediately and repeat the same after a few minutes.
Fertilizer for poinsettias
If you are maintaining the poinsettia beyond Christmas, then feed it a soluble houseplant fertilizer after following the manufacturer’s directions. Do this once a month. Make sure you do not feed the fertilizer while the plant is in flowering.
Force blooming poinsettias
Poinsettias can be made to bloom again if you want to see them flower the next Christmas too. You must start off on the force bloom process 10 weeks (late September or early October) before you want your plant to actually blossom with flowers.
Leave your poinsettia in darkness for 12 to 14 hours every night. To ensure you place the poinsettia in dark conditions, store it in a box, cabinet or closet at night. Maintaining dark conditions is important since the flowering process will be affected by any stray light. Leave the plant under the sun during daytime. Continue this process until the plant starts to flower.
Pest control for poinsettias
Plants like poinsettias are quite vulnerable to pests that normally infest the houseplants. Ensure to regularly check the leaves of the plant for insects. Wash the leaves regularly to prevent infestation of the same. If at all you happen to spot any insects, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or some indoor pesticide.
Caring for the poinsettia all year round
Early spring: If you spot dry or dead foliage, remove it. Allow the plant to dry out once the bracts fall off. Make sure the stems don’t shrivel. Move the plant to a cooler location with a temperature of about 50 degrees.
May: Cut short the stems of the plant such that it is at a height of 4 inches above the soil. Fetch another container that is almost 4 inches bigger than the current one and repot your poinsettia into it. Change the potting mix with no soil but lots of organic matter like leaf mold or peat moss. Place the plant in a sunlit area and water it occasionally. Feed it a water soluble fertilizer fortnightly.
June-July: Leave the plant outdoors in June and cut short the stems by an inch in July.
August-September: Cut short the stems once again. To ensure blooms during the winter, do not shorten the plant beyond September. Just before you are ready to force bloom the plant by late September, place the plant indoors in a sunlit area.