10 January 2009

POINSETTIAS - Now That Christmas is Over

Poinsettias - Now That Christmas is Over

Every November and December, the grocery stores, nurseries and gift shops stock up on beautiful poinsettias. There are gorgeous, huge displays of so many colors! You can't resist and buy one, hoping that you can keep it alive forever. If you live in the northern hemisphere, keeping your Christmas Poinsettias alive beyond December can be tricky. These plants do not like the cold. They are, after all, natives of Mexico.
Here are some tips to give you the best chances of succeeding:

After Christmas - water you plant only when the top one inch of soil becomes dry. Do not let it sit in water. Stop watering as soon as water starts running out the bottom of the pot. Place your plant in a window that gets direct sun (not north). The temperature should stay between 65 and 75 degrees with no sudden changes. Keep your plant away from cold windows and never let them touch the glass. Also, keep your plant away from heater vents. If your home air is dry, you need to check the soil every day and water if needed.

April - During the first two weeks, start watering when the top two inches of soil becomes dry. During the second half of the month, let the soil dry out almost all the way before watering but don't let the stem shrivel. Start watering a little more often if this starts to happen. At the end of April, when your plant has gotten used to being in drier soil, move it to a cooler spot in your home such as the basement or garage but never let it go below 60 degrees!

May- around the middle of the month, prune all stems back to about 4 or 5 inches and repot in a slightly wider container using new potting soil. Water your poinsettia well but don't let it sit in the water. Put the newly potted plant back into that bright window where it used to live and keep the temperature between 65 - 75 F just like before. Start watering your plant whenever the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry.

As soon as you notice new buds starting to form, water whenever the top one inch of soil is dry and begin fertilizing every two weeks with a complete fertilizer, following the label's instructions.

June- Move the poinsettia pot outdoors. Keep it in a partially shaded location and maintain the same watering and fertilizing schedule.

July- At the beginning of the month, pinch back each stem by about one inch to encourage bushy growth. If left unpinched, the poinsettia will grow tall and spindly rather than nice and full.
August- By the middle of the month, the pinched stems should have branched out and grown new leaves. Now pinch the tops off the new stems, leaving 3 or 4 leaves on each shoot. Bring your poinsettia back inside and back into it's bright window. Keep watering and fertilizing as you have been doing.

September- Continue your regular watering and fertilizing schedule. Make sure the temperature stays above 65 F.

October- the length of daylight affects the bud growth of poinsettias. It's time to trick your plant into blooming for the upcoming holidays. To do this, your plant will need about 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. You will have to artificially create these conditions by having a "bedtime" and "wake up time." This part is very important.

Starting on October 1st, put your plant "to bed" in complete darkness from 5 pm to 8 am. Any exposure to light will delay the blooming. Some people put their plant in a closet with an upside down box over it. If any light gets to your plant during its "bedtime", this will affect the buds.
After 8 am each morning, it's time to "wake up" and transfer the plant back to its sunny window. Don't forget "bedtime" each night at 5 pm. Keep watering and fertilizing just like you've been doing.

November- Around the 20th of November, you can keep your plant in it's sunny window and stop the artificial day/night schedule. You should see colored buds by now.

December - Stop fertilizing on December 15th. Keep watering and treat your plant the way you did when you first brought it home in bloom.


armywife65 said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Gramma's Corner, I like your site too. I love poinsettias. Didn't know they came in all those colors though. That's a good thing, or maybe not, cuz now I will have to spend money...lol

Ishrath said...

Very helpful link and helps me save my poinsettias for next year and more. Thanks for sharing.

Liz said...

Thanks for writing Ishrath! Good luck saving them! My grandmother had a 6ft high hedge of them along her garage wall that was protected from frost. Such wonderful memories!