“Reviving Poinsettias: A Step-by-Step Guide to Keeping Holiday Cheer Year-Round”

by Ryan Lee
Poinsettia Care

Holiday decorations often serve as ephemeral delights, charming us in the lead-up to the festive season only to be discarded soon after. Yet, one exception to this trend is the poinsettia, those iconic red and white “flowering” plants. With the right care and attention, poinsettias can thrive throughout the year and grace your holiday celebrations with their presence once again. (Note: The terms “flowering” and “rebloom” are used here for simplicity, although technically, poinsettias are adorned with colorful modified leaves known as bracts.)

Caring for poinsettias as houseplants can be relatively straightforward. Providing them with adequate water, sunlight, and occasional fertilization will keep them content. However, coaxing these beauties to bloom anew in time for the next December can be a rewarding challenge. Here’s a detailed guide on how to achieve it:

  1. Post-Holiday Care: After the holiday season, place your poinsettias in a sunny location. Continue to water them as needed until the flowers begin to fade. At that point, cease watering.

  2. Dormancy Period: As the plants shed their leaves and enter dormancy, lay the pots on their sides and keep them in a cool, dark place, like an unheated cellar, until April. Check on them periodically and lightly spray with water if their stems start to shrivel.

  3. April Pruning: In April, trim 2 inches off the tip of each stem and reintroduce the plants to a sunny spot in your home. Poinsettias thrive at temperatures between 70-75 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night. Maintain soil moisture without overwatering.

  4. Summer Transition: If you wish to move the plants outdoors for the summer, wait until the danger of frost has passed. Gradually increase their exposure to the outdoors over a few days. Alternatively, continue caring for them as houseplants. In either case, begin monthly feeding with one teaspoon of a 20-20-20 fertilizer per gallon of water.

  5. September Return: Bring your poinsettias back indoors at the beginning of September. Before doing so, check for insects and rinse the plants and pots with a gentle stream of water.

  6. Darkness Requirement: To stimulate flowering, poinsettias need 40 days of complete darkness for 15 hours each day. Starting on October 1, place them in a well-lit, sunny spot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, then move them to a dark location, like a closet, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Alternatively, you can cover the plant with a box during those hours. Be diligent, as missing this step even once may prevent bud formation.

  7. November Appearance: Around the second week of November, when the bracts begin to exhibit their reddish (or white) hue, keep the poinsettias in a well-trafficked area of your home full-time. Maintain regular watering and fertilization, and proudly display your poinsettias alongside your holiday decorations.

Though the process may seem arduous, the joy of having thriving poinsettias year-round and the delight they bring to your holiday festivities are worth the effort.

Jessica Damiano is a seasoned gardening columnist for the AP and the author of the award-winning Weekly Dirt Newsletter, offering weekly gardening tips and advice. To receive her expert insights, you can subscribe here.

For more gardening stories from the AP, visit https://bigbignews.net/gardening.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Poinsettia Care

How can I keep poinsettias alive year-round?

To maintain poinsettias beyond the holiday season, follow these steps: After the holidays, place them in a sunny spot, stop watering as the flowers fade, and store in a cool, dark place until April. Prune in April, reintroduce to sunlight, and maintain proper indoor temperatures and moisture levels. Transition outdoors if desired for the summer, and provide regular fertilizer. Bring them back indoors in September, ensuring they are insect-free. To encourage flowering, subject them to a 40-day period of complete darkness starting in October. By November, they should be ready to adorn your holiday decorations.

Can poinsettias be grown as houseplants?

Yes, poinsettias can thrive as houseplants with proper care. They require adequate water, sunlight, and occasional fertilization. Maintaining indoor temperatures between 70-75 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night is crucial. Additionally, ensure the soil remains moist but not overly saturated.

What is the significance of the “darkness requirement” for poinsettias?

Poinsettias require 40 days of complete darkness for 15 hours each day to stimulate flowering. This darkness mimics their natural growth conditions. The process typically starts on October 1, where they need bright, sunny exposure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by darkness until 8 a.m. Missing this step even once can hinder bud formation.

Can poinsettias be placed outdoors during the summer?

Yes, poinsettias can be moved outdoors for the summer, provided the danger of frost has passed. Gradually increase their exposure to outdoor conditions over a few days to acclimate them. Continue to provide regular care, including fertilization, during this period.

How can I ensure healthy poinsettias for holiday decorations?

To ensure vibrant poinsettias for your holiday decorations, maintain a consistent care routine throughout the year. This includes proper watering, fertilization, and sunlight. Following the detailed steps outlined in the guide will help you achieve lush and colorful poinsettias for the festive season.

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GreenThumbExpert December 26, 2023 - 5:51 pm

Poinsettias luv consistency, like ppl luv pizza. Gud tips, tho!

GardenGuru55 December 26, 2023 - 7:01 pm

Jessica’s guide rly gud, but yikes, dat darkness thing, sounds tough! gotta set dat alarm!

PlantLover22 December 27, 2023 - 2:08 am

omg! I never new u culd keep poinsettias alive all year! sounds hard tho. imma try it tho, thx!


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