Do you want your poinsettia flower to bloom every year in your home? Keeping her alive is easier than you think! In this article, we are going to give you some tips and tricks to help you keep your poinsettia in perfect condition and to make it bloom for a long time. With a little care and attention, you can enjoy this beautiful plant for many years.
In January, most people end up with a pot of their poinsettia, filled with twigs and a layer of dry, wilted leaves. We almost always get rid of these plants, but it is not necessary.
Poinsettias are actually quite easy to care for after Christmas, and with a little effort next fall, you can enjoy their crimson leaves every December.
The first thing we need to talk about is the part of the plant that turns red. We often assume that these red leaves are flowers and call them flowers. In fact, the colored leaves of the plant are called bracts and they are not the flower.
In the case of plants, bracts are specialized leaves, different from the rest of the plant. They may have a different shape or color; they may even be larger or smaller than the other leaves. Bracts often play the role of attracting pollinators to the plant.
The brightly colored bracts help attract pollinators to the small flowers. But it’s those showy red leaves that make poinsettias so popular at Christmas.
Like most flowering plants, poinsettias lose their showy foliage after a while. This is perfectly normal. When the holidays are over, your poinsettia may have no leaves. This is when most people discard their plants.
But wait, if you’ve kept your poinsettia alive this long, you can grow it and produce spectacular foliage for years.
Poinsettia Care After Christmas
The trick is to water sparingly and leave the plant dormant until spring. In early May, you will need to prune the plant back to about 15cm tall.
This is also a good time to transplant your poinsettias in another pot if you deem it necessary. Use quality soil that drains well and a pot with a drainage hole. Make sure the new pot is no more than 5cm taller than the old one.
During the rest of the spring and summer, continue to water the plant regularly, allowing it to dry out completely between waterings. However, you should not let the plant get so dry that it begins to wilt.
You should also start fertilizing the plant once a month after transplanting it. Choose a good all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.
Now support for a poinsettias it is quite similar to that of another popular Christmas plant: the Christmas cactus.
Force a poinsettia color change
In its natural habitat, the poinsettia’s bracts change color due to seasonal changes in Central America. However, we can recreate this environment at home.
You should start this process about eight weeks before you want the poinsettia to change color, usually starting in September.
At this time, stop fertilizing the plant. If you have kept the plant outside, be sure to bring it indoors well before temperatures drop below 15 degrees at night.
Like the Christmas cactus bloom cycle, poinsettia bracts will change color if the nights are longer and the days are brighter.
To imitate it, you have to work a little, but it is not difficult. You will need to put your poinsettia in a completely dark place for 14 hours a day. For the other ten hours, it should be in a location that receives direct and indirect sunlight.
It is important that the plant is kept in total darkness for about 14 hours.
Even small amounts of light, both natural and artificial, can prevent the poinsettia from changing color. A closet, pantry, or windowless room is perfect.
If you don’t have a good place in your house that is completely dark, you can use two black trash bags or a large cardboard box to cover the plant. Cover the plants in the early afternoon, being careful not to crush the leaves. Remove the cover in the morning so they get the recommended ten hours of light.
The bracts begin to turn from green to red.
Slightly cooler temperatures, around 15 degrees, will also help mimic the plant’s natural environment.
The poinsettia will also need more humidity. A small cool mist humidifier works great or, in a pinch, a dish of water placed near the plant. If you’re using a mister, don’t mist the leaves or you’ll get stains.
You will need to maintain this routine for about 4-5 weeks; however, once the bracts have changed color, you can enjoy your poinsettia just as you did on previous holidays. You may even like it more to keep it alive for another year.
Keeping a poinsettia from year to year is a fun winter gardening project for all gardeners. Each year your poinsettia will get a little bigger and more impressive.
Yes, it does take a bit of work, so this project might not be for everyone, but it’s worth a try at least once.
And another benefit of keeping poinsettias alive beyond the holidays is that you can take cuttings from new growth in the spring and grow new poinsettias.