Poinsettias are attractive houseplants that have dark green leaves and leafy red “bracts” that surround the green-yellow flowers. These plants are often used to decorate homes at Christmas. However, they can be difficult to keep alive after Christmas. That is why most poinsettias are thrown out after the red bracts and festivities have ended. With a little attention and care, it is possible to keep your poinsettia thriving all year. You can even encourage new red bracts and blooms to grow in time for Christmas.
How To Grow Poinsettias
Your poinsettia will thrive in indirect, bright light and temperatures between 13-15°C. You should water sparingly once the compost’s surface has dried out. To increase humidity and maintain the bracts’ vibrant colors for longer periods of time, mist frequently. You can feed your plants once a month with a high-potash liquid, such as a tomato feed, after Christmas.
How To Grow and Care for Poinsettias
When buying your poinsettias at a supermarket or garden centre, ensure it is in good condition. Also, check that the leaves are not wilting because this can indicate that they have been kept in too cold conditions. Avoid placing poinsettias near doors or on forecourts at petrol stations or they won’t last. Also, ensure that your poinsettia is protected during the return journey. If necessary, ask the shop assistant for help wrapping it or putting it in a bag. Your poinsettia should not be left in your car longer than necessary because temperatures can rapidly drop and it will suffer.
When you get home, place your poinsettia in a sunny spot that is not draughty and out of direct sunlight. Only water the compost if it is dry. Otherwise, you can continue to water sparingly. You can increase humidity by lightly spraying water on the compost every few days. This will keep your bracts and leaves in top condition. You can dust the leaves whenever you like. Start feeding your poinsettia liquid plant food rich in potassium after Christmas.
Encouraging and Care For Poinsettias to Flower Again
Although it is not an easy task to get your poinsettias to bloom again, there are some things you can do.
Keep your poinsettias at 13°C during April. Your poinsettia should be repotted in May into a larger pot using fresh, peat-free and loam-based compost. Then, keep the plant out of direct sunlight.
When the day gets shorter, poinsettias grow flowers and bracts. This happens naturally in December. However, to encourage flowering by Christmas you will need to replicate the short day length. You can do this by placing your poinsettia in a dark place for 12 hours every day starting November. You should keep it at an even temperature, 18°C, and ensure that it is not exposed to artificial lighting.
After your poinsettia flowers have begun to bloom, you can mist the leaves daily to maintain their beauty for as long as possible.
In May, you can plant your poinsettias from softwood cuttings. Wear gloves when you do this, as poinsettias contain milky sap which can irritate skin.