Poinsettias with their familiar red and green leaves are a popular plant given as a gift during the festive period. Knowing how to care for your poinsettia will prolong its life and reward you with more colourful bracts for longer.
Poinsettias are tropical plants native to Mexico. Providing them with the best growing conditions while they are on display in the house will help them to thrive and continue to impress for longer.
Caring for your Poinsettia
Poinsettias need a bright and light position, ideally an East, south or west facing window and free from draughts. They perform best in mild, warm temperatures.
Avoid over watering. Poinsettias enjoy a light misting of water to create a comfortable level of humidity.
Avoid applying a fertilizer while the plant is in bloom. In the spring the plant can receive a feed of a low nitrogen, high potassium fertiliser.
Re-potting your Poinsettia
If you want to keep your poinsettia and bring it back to bloom next year it is possible but can be a tricky process.
- During January to March keep the plant warm and continue to water it when the soil is dry.
- Start to reduce the watering slowly during April allowing the soil to dry out a little. If the plant is still healthy move it to a cool spot away from direct sunlight. However, the plant still needs to maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Cut the stems back to 4 inches during the month of May and repot the plant into a larger pot with good quality potting soil. Water the plant well and place it once more in a bright position with plenty of sunlight and natural warmth.
- When the plant begins to show new growth, feed it every two weeks with a fertiliser of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Moving your Christmas flower outside
- When the outside temperature warms the poinsettia can be moved into the garden for the summer. Place it in a partially shaded spot and continue to water and fertilise the plant.
- Throughout the summer water and fertilise the plant, keeping the soil lightly moist with a good level of humidity. Pinch the stems back by about an inch to encourage a well branched plant and avoid it growing too tall.
- Towards the end of summer bring the plant back indoors and place it back in a warm, light area. Continue with the water and fertiliser routine.
Time to force your Poinsettia to flower
- As October comes around it is time to put your poinsettia to bed. Poinsettias are short-day plants and need a period of darkness to encourage them to bloom. At the beginning of October, the plant will need around 12 hours of darkness for 10 weeks to force it to bloom. Placing the plant in a warm closet or cupboard during the night and bringing it out during the day is the preferred method.
- By the end of November, your poinsettia should begin to flower and can now be kept near the window all day and be on full show ready for Christmas.
- In the middle of December, stop fertilising the plant and enjoy your poinsettia as much as you did last year.
If you have been successful with bringing your poinsettia back to beautiful bloom, you could consider adding a white, pink or the stunning golden glow variety to your collection.