Poinsettias are an extremely festive plant and one that promises to add an injection of colour to your home.
While the majority of poinsettias are red, you can also find them in pink, white and cream hues.
Most will grow to a little over 30cm tall but poinsettia care is extremely important, as when treated properly these stunning blooms will last for many weeks.
Poinsettia Care: the basics
Also known as Euphorbia pulcherrima, this particular species of plant requires a little tender love and care. In order to prolong their Christmas blooms, these bold and beautiful plants necessitate specific growing conditions.
Poinsettia care begins with choosing the correct location for your plant – an area that ensures good light, temperature and water conditions.
When in full bloom, these plants tend to prefer semi-cool, yet humid environments with bright, indirect light and ample moisture. Poinsettia plants should be watered methodically although you should ensure they’re not overwatered by investing in a container that offers adequate drainage.
Too much water can cause root rot. Place your poinsettia next to other plants for best results, as this can aid in increasing humidity levels in dry rooms. Another way to boost humidity levels involves investing in a humidifier.
Once flower bracts have fallen, you can either discard the plant or keep it for another year. If you wish to continue with poinsettia care, reduce your watering schedule and allow the plant to dry out, but remember not to let it dry out completely.
The next step requires you to find a new home for the poinsettia plant – a shaded, cool, dark environment is the ideal option, at least until the onset of spring or April.
Fertilising poinsettia plants
Gardeners and florists state that you should avoid fertilising poinsettias while they’re still in bloom.
It’s important to only apply fertiliser if you wish to keep them post Christmas. If so, use a regular houseplant fertiliser and add it every two weeks or once a month. As long as the poinsettia plant is permitted the correct growing conditions, it should start to flourish in just a few weeks.
Poinsettia Care after Christmas
In the spring, place your poinsettia plant in a bright, sunny area and water it well.
Remove all branches, cutting them back to around six inches from the rim of the pot. It’s a good idea to use the same potting soil as you did initially when re-potting your poinsettia. While poinsettias are able to tolerate indoor temperatures throughout the summer months, many gardeners will still plant them outdoors, provided their garden or patio sits in the sun. To ensure poinsettia care, choose a protected area of the garden and submerge the pot into the ground.
When new growth has extended to between six and ten inches, you can encourage branching by pinching out the tips of the plant. This should be done up until the middle of August, at least once a month. When the evenings become longer, it’s recommended you bring the poinsettia indoors.
Between September and November, light plays an extremely important part in poinsettia plant care. These particular species of plant require long periods of darkness at night in order to bloom.
For best results, this should be around 12 hours. If you’re unable to provide 12 hours of darkness naturally, cover the plant with a box. During the day, remove the box or place the plant outside or on a windowsill to allow plenty of light during the day. This will ensure the plant absorbs enough energy to produce flowers.
Looking out for ailments
If you notice that the leaves of your poinsettia plant are falling, it’s a good idea to pinpoint the reason for this. In most cases, this ailment can be easily addressed. Environmental factors including conditions that are too warm or dry are often the reason for leaf drop.
Stress is another factor to take into consideration, which is why it’s important to keep the plant in a cool, wind-free area, ensuring it has enough water. With the correct care, these plants will offer many years of beauty.
What to do with poinsettias after they stop blooming
If you’ve ensured your poinsettias have been kept in the correct conditions over Christmas, such as on a warm sunny window, you’re on your way to encouraging regrowth. This particular plant needs around six hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day after Christmas.
Choosing the correct environment for your plant will encourage the continual bloom of your poinsettia the following Christmas. For best results, choose an environment that offers a day temperature of between 18°C and 21°C, and a slightly cooler temperature at night.
This will prolong the plant’s blooms, while helping to avoid leaf drop. Resume your normal watering routine up until the month of spring, and then allow the soil to dry gradually. When you reach April or May, cut the stems back to about four inches above the soil and re-pot the plant, choosing a larger container brimming with fresh, sterile potting mix.
Then sit back, relax and watch your poinsettia grow.