Christmas poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima), which grow in USDA zones 9 through 11, are a popular holiday decoration, but they are typically overlooked the rest of the year. However, once the tinsel and holiday decorations are taken down, you may continue to cultivate these delicate perennials for many years by providing them with simple care and pruning them on a regular basis. In their native Mexico, these plants can grow to the size of small bushes and reach heights of 10 feet or more if left to grow naturally outdoors in the hottest USDA zones.
What you need to know about the poinsettia
Poinsettia is a flower with the following name: (Euphorbia pulcherrima).
Up to three meters in the ground, however most are cultivated in pots.
Mid-green, oval, delicate, and occasionally tinted with scarlet, the foliage.
A tropical or warm-temperate plant for indoors; a temperate plant for the outdoors.
Any type of loam or good potting mix that drains easily and is fertile.
Leaf scorch is minimized in a sunny open area with some light shade from the intense midday/afternoon sun.
Bracts in a variety of colors, ranging from white to pink to red, form the “flowers” that surround the small, tiny blossoms.
Feeding: from spring through autumn, apply a slow-release fertilizer and top up with liquid food.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Appearance and characteristics of poinsettias
Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they thrive in climates ranging from mild to hot and humid. However, its leaves are not normally fleshy, making it a succulent. They’re a medium green with crimson undertones. The stems of the plant may also be crimson.
Cutting or tearing the stems of the poinsettia causes it to leak milky sap. Avoid getting the sap on your skin, as it may trigger an allergic reaction for certain people.
It is possible for plants in the garden to reach a height of 4 meters, so it is necessary to perform frequent trimming to keep them under control. In addition, there are dwarf variants that only reach heights of 1–2 meters.
Poinsettias are well known for their “flowers” at the ends of their branches. During the flowering time, these plants can totally hide the leaves in containers and in the garden.
Poinsettias typically bloom throughout the cold months of the year. Light and temperature-controlled glasshouse plants are used in the southern hemisphere to mislead plants into believing it’s winter, rather than summer.
Poinsettias come in a wide range of colors, from creamy white to blush pink, with variegated leaves and bracts. They tend to be smaller and bushier than those of the original red variety.
You can plant poinsettias either in a container or in the garden, as long as it’s in a warm spot. Full sun to half-shade is ideal for this plant; it will not blossom or color well in dense shade. Because the branches are so delicate, they need to be protected from high winds. Healthy, strong growth is encouraged by well-drained soil that has been treated with compost and old animal dung.
With a pot that can be moved around, the poinsettia may be warmed by the sun and protected from frosts and chilly winds in a lower area.
Always use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix and a pot that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root ball. Put a little plant in a large pot only if you have to.
How to grow poinsettia from cuttings
- In the spring or summer, stem cuttings can be used to grow poinsettias.
- Fresh water can be used to remove the milky sap.
- Set the poinsettia cuttings on a tray or pot of coarse cleaned sand or propagating mix.
- Plants should be potted up one at a time once the roots have established.
Caring for poinsettias
The upkeep of a poinsettia plant is simple. A succulent, the poinsettia, needs some water, but not too much. Summer watering is required at least once a week (more frequently in containers or during particularly hot and dry conditions). Each time you use it, make sure to completely soak it. Decrease the frequency as the weather becomes colder, but don’t fully stop.
A potassium-rich liquid or water-soluble fertilizer (labeled as “K” in the “NPK” ratio) should be applied every 3–4 weeks during the flowering season to promote vibrant coloration in the flower heads.
A controlled-release fertilizer, such as one for blooming plants or garden beds, is also recommended because it can feed for up to six months.
Always use a high-quality potting mix when growing poinsettias in a pot. To keep the mixture from washing away, use flywire mesh to cover the pot’s drain openings.
After the flowers have faded from established plants in the garden and containers, they should be trimmed back. The plant will respond with lush new growth and copious blossoming if you are tough with it.
The poinsettia is a Christmas emblem, and it’s not uncommon for people to buy potted plants in the color red for the holiday season only to toss them out when the petals fade.
The plant should not be thrown away, but it should be pruned, given a dose of controlled-release fertilizer, and relocated to an area that receives at least six hours of indirect sunshine each day.
Re-pot the plant into a larger container or plant it directly in the garden if new shoots appear. It is expected to bloom again in the fall.
Poinsettia pests and diseases
Aphids or thrips may occasionally attach themselves to a poinsettia. Pyrethrum, a plant-based insecticide, is effective against them.
Root damage in pots can be caused by fungus gnats (little black flies) in the potting mix. If an organic insecticide doesn’t work, re-pot the plant into a new bag of premium-quality potting mix that you just bought.
If you like this then try
Woody shrub with fragrant pendulous flowers known as “angels trumpet” (Brugmansia).
Palms: from massive date and coconut palms to potted kentias, palms are synonymous with the tropics.
Start growing today
The tropics are synonymous with palms, from the gigantic date and coconut palms to the tiny kentias.
1. Disinfect Your Pruners
Use rubbing alcohol-soaked paper towels to disinfect pruning tools before and after each use to help prevent the spread of illness between plants.
2. Remove Old Blooms
Cut the old stems back to 4 to 6 inches in height in the late winter or early spring and leave one to three leaves on each stem. As a result, the leaf axis undergoes fresh growth, allowing the plant to become fully developed and capable of supporting numerous blooms.
3. Prune the Growing Tips
To encourage branching, pinch or trim the growing tips so that only three or four leaves are left on each stem, which prepares the plant for blooming and encourages branching. Pruning or pinching off the top two or three leaves every four to six weeks during the summer is fine, but stop after the first few weeks of fall.
4. Trim as Needed
Remove any excess foliage from larger plants to preserve the desired shape and size.
- Summers in most of the United States can be spent outside with poinsettias, as long as overnight temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Poinsettia cuttings can be saved and rooted in vermiculite to produce new plants. Plant poinsettias in a sunny yard or a window with a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain total darkness for 12 to 14 hours each night starting in the late fall to kickstart the winter blooming process.
- A half-strength solution of houseplant fertilizer should be applied to poinsettia plants every two to three weeks.
- The soil should be checked on a daily basis and watered only when it seems dry to the touch. Always make sure to water deeply enough to reach the drainage openings at the bottom. Empty the saucer of any water that has collected there.
- Always use gardening gloves and long sleeves when trimming or handling poinsettias since some people are allergic to their sap.
- Because of their sensitivity to light, poinsettias won’t bloom again if the period of darkness is broken for more than a few hours. Watch out for light from nearby streetlights or windows, as this may be enough to prevent the poinsettia from blooming.
How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant for Years of Blooming
In many parts of the world, the holiday season would not be complete without a poinsettia arrangement. Poinsettia plants can last for years if you know how to properly care for them.
When the leaves and blooms of the poinsettia plant began to fall off, I was ashamed to admit that I had always just thrown them away. However, you can preserve poinsettias for several years. Eventually, they’ll grow into enormous tree-like plants.
Poinsettia plants are often placed in the church auditorium in memory of a deceased loved one during the Christmas season in the South. All the colors of poinsettias are expected to fill the area, but most of them will be red. You can take your poinsettia home with you after the Christmas Eve service.
Since then, I’ve been requested to take some of the extras home by the small old-timer ladies who were clearing out the theater six years ago. “Honey, you realize you can keep them for years, don’t you?” she asked, perplexed. It pained me to admit it, but I’d never heard of that. She generously shared her knowledge of how to care for a poinsettia plant so that it will thrive for years to come.
The First Step is in Selecting the Poinsettia Plant
Look for dark green leaves on your poinsettia when you go to buy it. Colors of the leaves should be brilliant and colorful and in proportion to the pot and plant stem’s size, as well. When you look at the flowers, they should be tightly clustered in yellow with no pollen visible at the core of the vibrant leaves.
It is best to avoid any plants that don’t match these standards of health. Avoid plants that have drooping leaves or otherwise don’t appear to be in good health. They may not be able to fully recover from their injuries.
When it comes to hosting guests, don’t utilize or buy a sick plant or one that has a pest problem. When you get home, remember to take precautions to keep your plant safe. No wind or frigid temperatures should be allowed to touch it.
Is it Worth the Work to Keep a Poinsettia?
As far as I’m concerned, there are two camps of thinking here. Some people relish the challenge of hosting them. Others argue that they aren’t worth the effort and should be disposed of like a Christmas tree.
You must make your own decision. Even if you follow all the instructions to the letter, there is no assurance that they will rebloom the next year. If you’re a gardener, you already know that this is a possibility. There’s always a trade-off between effort and reward in any endeavor.
How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant Through the Holidays
Choosing a healthy poinsettia is critical since it will bloom from the end of November to the beginning of February. Once your poinsettia plant has arrived safely at your house, make sure to give it lots of natural light while avoiding direct sunlight as a holiday decoration. Avoid putting it in locations with a lot of foot traffic, drafts, or near ceiling fans or other heat sources. A single one of them might cause irreparable harm to your plant.
Placement of the poinsettia near a cold window should be avoided. As a tropical plant, the poinsettia prefers temperatures between 60 and 70oF. The poinsettia, like many of the greatest houseplants for purifying the air in your home, isn’t a fan of high temps.
After each irrigation, the poinsettia prefers a dry period. Do not water it until it is completely dry. In order to keep your poinsettia from wilting, you must cut or punch holes in the bottom of its festive holiday foil wrapping. The most prevalent cause of poinsettia mortality is over-watering.
When watering the poinsettia, make sure the soil is completely submerged in water. Make sure there is no more water in the saucepan by letting it drain thoroughly. When it comes to watering, the leaves are a good indicator of whether or not you’ve done enough. The lower leaves of the plant will turn yellow and fall off if they receive too much water. A lack of water will cause the leaves to wilt and the poinsettia plant to lose its lower and middle branches.
How To Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant For Reflowering
Outside is preferable versus indoors for poinsettias if your climate allows it. If you can’t live outside because of your climate, at the very least, move your plant outside as soon as the weather allows it to. Buying a poinsettia doesn’t guarantee that it will ever look the same.
You can utilize the pruned cuttings to start new plants in order to acquire that store-bought look. For this reason, we buy pre-packaged poinsettias when we go to the store. Prunings from a sapling were cut off. Now that you’ve read this, you understand!
There are a few extra measures you’ll need to follow if you plan on reflowering your poinsettia. Remember that despite your best efforts, there is no assurance that the plant will rebloom, but there is a significant probability that it will. Poinsettia “trees” can be made with your aid.
Pruning for Shape
You may maintain the bushy look by cutting back the plant to about six inches above its main stem. You can re-grow your poinsettias by re-rooting the cut stems.
Remove the tops of each main stalk if you want a bushier poinsettia. Pinching off any new growth until mid to late July is recommended. This holds true for all varieties of poinsettias.
Remove all of the shoots from the main stem if you want a “tree-like” poinsettia. Stay with the stem at the top. Except for the removal of any side shoots, do not prune this stem. Trim off any new growth until the middle or end of July.
Light Needs Before Flowering Season
After the blooming period has ended and the plant has been clipped to the desired form, avoid placing it in direct sunlight. If you do, the remaining leaves will be destroyed and the plant will be burnt.
For the first two weeks, place your poinsettia in full shade. Moving to partial shade for two weeks after two weeks of complete shade is a good idea. The next step is to transfer it to a spot with some to all of the sun. We term this process “hardening off.” If you plan to bring your plant outside, this is extremely crucial.
How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant Late Winter through Early Spring
When it comes to pruning, now is the time. When reshaping the plant, take care not to damage any of the blossoms. From February through March, this is typical. Put it to sleep or let it bloom till you’re satisfied with the results. The holiday decor has worn most people out, so they put theirs to bed.
The ideal temperature range for your poinsettia is 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At the very least, this is a perfect setting for me. My plants aren’t getting the conditions they need. Rather than failing to put up an effort, I just fail to notice how cool or warm a location is. Fertilize and water your plants as needed every two weeks, as we discussed earlier.
How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant Late Spring through Summer
You should repot your plant to a larger container at this point in time. Soil that drains properly, such as succulent soil, should be used in your garden. Peat moss and vermiculite can be mixed together in your garden soil if you choose.
There are two ways to raise poinsettias in the garden. It is possible to put your pot in the ground up to the rim of the pot or to leave it in a larger pot. Any of the options are fine. My flowers aren’t buried because I refuse to do so.
Keep your plant indoors until the evening temperature consistently rises above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you haven’t pruned your plant yet, it’s best to keep it indoors till then. Give your plant some time to recover from pruning before putting it outside, as this can cause damage.
You should feed your poinsettia every two weeks. Follow the package instructions when applying a fertilizer to your houseplants. For the time being, all you need to do is water, fertilize, and leave your plant alone.
How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant During Fall
Keep an eye out for any weather alerts about impending frost. Your poinsettia will need to be moved indoors before the first frost. The plant will be severely harmed or even killed if it is frozen. During the day, as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 50oF, you can leave it out on the porch. Place it in a window that gets plenty of sunlight during this period.
Keep feeding and watering your poinsettia plant as usual.
Your plant needs to be kept in deep darkness at the end of September, just like a Christmas cactus. The poinsettia must be kept in a dark room or closet at night, with no light coming in from the street or any other source. Do this between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., or as close as your schedule permits. After the first of December, keep doing this.
After 8 a.m., place your plant in a location that gets a lot of sunlight. The temperature should be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In the event that the nighttime temperature is above 70 degrees, the process of re-blooming will be delayed.
Before nightfall, you can bring your poinsettia into full bloom by putting it in direct sunlight. Reduce the fertilizer to once a month and be careful not to overwater your plants.
Warm fluorescent lights can be used during the day instead of moving the plant into and out of darkness if you want. Because poinsettias require warm white light, don’t use standard grow lights. For each poinsettia plant, use a single 100-watt bulb. Adjust the height of the bulb to about a foot and a half above the plant.
Be careful when using HPS lights. Because it is used to cultivate a specific plant that is illegal in the majority of states, the HPS light emits a signature that law enforcement agencies can detect. A knock on the door with a large number of officers and a search warrant would have been a shock!
Tips for How to Take Care of a Poinsettia Plant
- During the time when the power is out, avoid disturbing your poinsettia. In general, 14 hours of darkness is deemed acceptable, although experts concur that 16 hours of darkness is required for optimal performance. Even if you use warm lighting or expose it to bright sunlight during “waking hours,” this is especially true.
- Keep an eye out for signs of flowering. The “rusting out” sign is the initial warning sign. Autumn has arrived, as seen by the changing color of the leaves at their apex.
- Make sure the poinsettia gets bright light, but not more than 10 hours a day, after it begins to flower. Warm white light emitted from a source such as the sun or a similar artificial source.
- Providing your poinsettia with at least 9 hours of light exposure a day will keep it blooming through February and possibly even into May.
- Put your plant under artificial light for 24 hours if you’re ready to put it to bed before it has flowered. As a result, the plant knows it’s time to rest for the season.
Your poinsettia plant will bloom again because to the attention you provided. Is it a lot of work for you to handle? Is it a test of your horticultural abilities?
It’s a lot more work than, say, growing a shamrock plant, but I’ve found that many people relish the process and the rewards that come with it.
Is there anything you can tell me about how to care for a poinsettia? If you have any, please let us know in the comments section.