December 12th is National Poinsettia Day! This day marks the death of Joel Robert Poinsett.
In 1825, he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States. One of the best ways to celebrate this day is to take a moment and learn a little more about the proper care of this Christmas holiday favorite. Read on to learn more about poinsettia plant care.
Poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are great end-of-year holiday plants that should look great in nearly any setting throughout the holiday season with minimal care.
These flowering plants are easy to find with their seasonal popularity, local greenhouses growing them but the southern Mexico tropical forest is the Poinsettia native habitat
The first step is to buy a quality plant (as you should with all your plants), from a reputable retailer that specializes in plant sales.
The best time to buy is right around Thanksgiving when selection is good. With reasonable care your poinsettia should last through New Year’s Day.
Light & Poinsettia Care
Poinsettias do best in a window with lots of indirect light. If you can’t provide enough light, the poinsettia will not last quite as long.
If kept in a dim location, the poinsettia may only last a few weeks. So try to provide as much light as possible to extend the life of its flower.
Poinsettias Care & Water
Poinsettias do not like to dry out. Try to keep the well-drained soil moderately damp to the touch at all times.
Plants getting lots of light and/or kept in a warm location will need more frequent watering than those in low light, cool locations. Do not provide excess water to avoid root rot.
Check your poinsettia at least twice per week to make sure it does not dry out.
Care Of Poinsettias – Temperature
Poinsettias are sensitive to temperatures below 65 degrees. So avoid cold, drafty window sills.
On the other hand, close proximity to heat sources will cause poinsettias to dry our quickly, thereby hastening their demise. Comfortable “people temperatures” are good for poinsettias too.
Poinsettia Plant Food & Misting
Don’t bother with either of these. They don’t help.
How long will a poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima stay in bloom?
It depends on all of the factors mentioned above. A quality plant in the right location that is well-cared for can stay in bloom for up to six months. But that is unusual.
Most poinsettias will last for 4 to 6 weeks before the flowers (technically known as bracts) begin to fall off.
When the flowers fade and the potted plant no longer looks attractive, you can discard the plant or you can test your green thumb by doing the following:
- Cut the stems back to just above the point where new (green) growth is emerging. This usually means cutting off one-half to two-thirds of the stems. The cuttings may look ugly until the new growth has filled out in a few weeks.
- Move the wild poinsettia to a sunny window sill or to an area with direct sunlight.
- Do not repot the poinsettia.
- Water and fertilize a poinsettia regularly – a concentrated liquid plant food works well. Do not let it get dried out. Avoid temperature extremes and cold drafts.
If you do all of the above you will be rewarded with a full, nicely shaped poinsettia with green leaves. Keep up this regimen through the winter, spring and summer.
If you want your bright red poinsettia to re-bloom, you will have to start preparing your poinsettia in the fall.
How to Get Your Poinsetta to Re-Bloom
It’s not complicated, but it’s not easy either. Beginning in late September, you must provide your poinsettia with 12 hours of complete darkness each night and 12 hours of good light during the day.
For about eight weeks, you will have to move your poinsettia to a dark closet every night and back to the windowsill each day.
Even a small amount of bright light from a light bulb for a short time can disrupt the formation of the new poinsettia flowers. This is a lot of work. Most people prefer to purchase a new poinsettia each holiday season.