Did you get a poinsettia this holiday season? If so, don’t toss it in the trash after Christmas. A few tips and tricks can help you keep your poinsettia alive and well year-round.
Since poinsettias are native to Mexico’s hot, tropical forests, MFBG Senior Horticulturist Katie Dickson and MFBG Grower Lori Cason both said poinsettias should be kept inside during cold-weather months.
The ideal temperature range for a poinsettia to thrive is 65 to 75 degrees, so keep them away from cold drafts and heating sources.
“You can grow them inside or on a porch after the season is over with the right light,” said Cason. Cason grew poinsettias for 18 years at Grandiflora Nursery in Florida.
Strategically position the poinsettia near a window since they prefer bright, indirect light.
Check the soil surface daily; if it’s dry, water.
“Poinsettias like to be moist, but not sitting in water. If you have a poinsettia in decorative foil, cut a slit in the foil and set the plant on a saucer for drainage,” Dickson said.
Cason said growers call poinsettias “the one-chance plant” since they defoliate all but the top flower if they’re dried out.
“That doesn’t mean the plant is dead, just no longer desirable in the market,” she added.
In spring, cut the leaves and stems back by 4 inches. This will encourage growth for the bloom season. Also in spring, begin fertilizing the poinsettia once a month with a well-balanced fertilizer.
Once outdoor temperatures are warm, the poinsettia can be moved outside. But, bring it inside again when temperatures fall into the 50s.
To force the bracts to color again, the poinsettia must be kept in uninterrupted darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., so you can just stick it in a closet overnight beginning Oct. 1. Once the bracts start to color, move the plant to a sunny spot and leave it there. When full color has been achieved, move the poinsettia to a spot where it will be enjoyed the most.