When our poinsettia plants are finished blooming and not looking so pretty anymore, do we have to throw them out? No! Read on to find tips on how to care for a poinsettia after Christmas so you can, hopefully, enjoy your plant year round.
The good news is that caring for and encouraging blooms again on your poinsettia after Christmas is possible BUT keep in mind that your poinsettias will require specific attention.
To get a poinsettia plant to bloom again, we need to repeat the poinsettia life cycle. After the holidays and once blooming has finished, cut back on the watering so the plant can go dormant until spring. Then, in March or April, regular watering can be resumed and fertilizing can begin. Prune back the plant to about 6 inches (15 cm.) from the top of the container and repot.
Poinsettia plants can be kept outside in a protected sunny area during summer. Pinch out the tips to promote branching of new growth until about the middle of August. Once fall returns (and shorter days), reduce the amount of fertilizer and bring outdoor plants inside. Once again, limit watering in September/October and give the poinsettia bright daylight temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees F. (16-21 C.) with total darkness at night with cooler temperatures of around 60 degrees F. (15 C.). Keep your poinsettia in complete darkness for about 12-14 hours a day for an 8 to 10 week period. Simply stick it in a closet or cover with a big box every evening and then return the plant to its sunny window during the remainder part of the day. After 8-10 weeks you should be able to stop the dark period altogether, placing the plant in a sunny area for at least six hours daily.
Reduce water and fertilizer. Then, by Christmas, your blooming poinsettia will be the centerpiece of holiday decor and ready to begin the cycle again.
There’s no guarantee that your poinsettia will bloom again even with the best care, but it can be fun to try!
In the wild, poinsettias can grow into a tall and scraggly tree, up to eight to ten feet tall, with blazing red leaves. The mature tree can grow to be so large and lanky that they almost resemble vines. You have probably seen them when you vacation in the tropics but didn’t recognize it because it doesn’t look like the plants that we buy from the garden centre. Our plants will never reach the sizes they do in the wild, because all cultivated poinsettias have been purposely infected with a bacteria that stunts their growth, keeping them small and compact. Look for these next time you are on vacation! It's interesting to see the potted tropicals we have in our garden center growing in their natural habitats!