Care for your poinsettia to prolong its life…
Ever wonder how to get maximum enjoyment out of your Christmas poinsettia? Here are our suggestions:
• Transport it home carefully.
• Paper plant sleeves help protect the bracts from being broken, and they can also shelter the plant momentarily from freezing temperatures. Just a minute’s exposure to below-freezing weather can kill the plant.
• When removing the paper sleeve, tear the paper, rather than trying to hoist the plant up and out of it.
• Keep your poinsettia cool, bright and moist. Those were the conditions under which it was grown in its greenhouse, and that’s what it will need in your home over the holidays.
• If you let a poinsettia dry out to the point of wilting even once, you will see half or more of its lower leaves turn yellow and fall within days.
• You won’t need any special fertilizer as long as it’s blooming. There will be ample nutrients in the potting soil.
• Keep it near a bright window, and keep it away from hot drafts.
Bringing a poinsettia back into flower…
Be certain that you actually want to go to all the trouble. Poinsettias get really large if they’re given one entire year of good growing conditions. The plant you got at Christmas was nothing more than an unrooted cutting in August. That’s how fast they grow.
Knowing all that, if you still want to try it:
• Repot your plant once its bracts are no longer attractive.
• Prune it back by half or more, and plant it into loose, highly organic potting soil.
• As the plant grows, pinch the growing tips out every three or four weeks to keep it compact.
• Don’t over-feed it, but do give it really bright light all spring and summer.
• You may have to repot it another time or two, since it will be getting larger and larger.
• To bring it into flower, you should give it 14 hours of total and uninterrupted darkness each night beginning October 1.
• During the daytime, you’ll want to have the plant in full sunlight. Some folks misunderstand these directions, thinking that the plants need total darkness 24 hours a day. What you’re trying to accomplish is fooling the plant into thinking it’s later in the winter than it actually is by giving it those artificially long “nights.”