July 22, 2019

How to Re-Bloom that Holiday Poinsettia Plant

PoinsettiaOh those beautiful red holiday plants.  I’m seeing them everywhere as the holidays approach.

Native to Mexico, the poinsettia originated in a region near the present-day city of Taxco. Joel Robert Poinsett, a Southern plantation owner and botanist, was appointed the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825-1829). While visiting Taxco, he was struck by the beauty of the brilliant red plants he found blooming in the region during December. He had some of the plants sent to his plantation in Greenville, South Carolina, where they flourished in his greenhouse.  With over 70 million plants sold nationwide each year, the poinsettia is now the number one flowering potted plant sold in the USA.  While the botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, was given by a German taxonomist in 1833, the common name, poinsettia, became and has remained the accepted name in English-speaking countries,although no one seems to be able to agree on how to spell the plants name, poinsettia, poinsetta, pointsettia, pointsetta, and some just resign to referring to them as Christmas plants.  In any event, there is no doubt that the plant has almost become as synonymous to Christmas as the Christmas tree has.

Everyone seems to love the beauty and color they offer but who likes just throwing the plant in the garbage after the holidays?  If you don’t like watching your poinsettia plants die each year, try these steps to try re-blooming it.  It  takes some patience and commitment, but the reward is that your holiday plant will  bloom again next winter.

After the holidays:

Place the poinsettia in a very sunny indoor spot and keep soil just barely moist.  Fertilize as package recommends.

In March: Trim to six to eight inches tall after its leaves fall.  Continue to water and fertilize.

In May: When your poinsettia shows strong new growth, re-pot and bring outdoors.  Give plant 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.  Protect from harsh afternoon sun.  Fertilize weekly.

Mid-July: Trim 1/4 of the growing tips to encourage branching.  Leave at least 2 to 3 large leaves on each stem.  Continue watering and fertilizing.

Early autumn: Bring indoors when nights fall below 60° F.

October 1 to December 15: Place your poinsettia in complete darkness from 5:00 PM until 8:00 AM in temperatures around 65° F.  Any light dash even for a moment – will ruin your efforts.  Place in a sunny location during the day.

Mid-December: After plant starts to color, a long night is not as necessary, keep giving poinsettia 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight until completely colored.  Then stopped fertilizing and place the plant in its holiday location.  Your poinsettia may not be quite as plush or bright as those in the nurseries, but it will still be beautiful.

Note: There is a widespread misconception that these beautiful plants are poisonous and although every year I hear folks relaying this misinformation, it’s simply not true.

For more information on Poinsettias and how to select and care for them, visit the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

Merry Christmas!

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