Learn to Take Care of Poinsettias and Get Them to Rebloom

poinsettiaThere isn’t a flower that says Christmas more than the poinsettia. They come in a wide variety of colors and styles.

The poinsettia is native to Central America, and it flourished in an area of southern Mexico. The Aztecs used the plant for decorative purposes as well as for dyes, cosmetics and the white sap was used to treat fevers.

Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, was enchanted by the brilliant red blooms. He first brought them home to his plantation in South Carolina in 1825, where he began propagating them.

It is believed that its was named the poinsettia around 1836, recognizing the man who first brought the plant to the United States. Aside from bringing the poinsettia to the United States, Poinsett founded the institution which we know today as the Smithsonian.

With proper care, dedication, and a certain amount of luck, you too, can re-bloom your poinsettia! An easy way to remember what to do with your poinsettia is to follow the holidays!

On St. Patrick’s Day or late March, cut your poinsettia back to about 8” height. Continue a regular watering and fertilizing program, and by the end of May, you should see vigorous new growth.

On or around Memorial Day re-pot the plant into a larger container with a good quality potting mix that has a considerable amount of organic matter, such as peat moss or leaf mold. Place outdoors in indirect sun for the summer where they can bask in the warmth. Continue regular watering, and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.

In late June or around Independence Day, your poinsettia can benefit from a pruning, if necessary. Be sure not to prune your plant later than September.

On or around Labor Day move plant back indoors to a sunny window.

The poinsettia is a photoperiodic plant, meaning that it sets bud and produces flowers as the Autumn nights lengthen.

Starting around Columbus Day, start giving the plant 14 hours of darkness each night. Cover it with a large cardboard box if you don’t have a darkened closet – it must have absolute darkness. Continue darkness treatment for 8 – 10 weeks, putting the plant in a window during the day where it will receive four to six hours of direct sun. The night temperatures should range between 60 and 70 degrees. Water and feed as usual. As soon as the poinsettia comes into bloom, discontinue the darkness procedure.

Carefully following this regime for 8 to 10 weeks should result in a colorful display of blooms for the holiday season. You should enjoy your beautiful Poinsettia that’s even bigger and brighter than last year!