Written on January 11, 2013
Your poinsettia made it through the holidays and now you want to keep it and make it turn red again? Here are the steps to follow.
In the red until spring
Under good growing conditions, your poinsettia bracts will retain their color longer than four months. How to help them keep their color until spring?
- Give your plant maximum indirect light or full sun.
- Keep the temperature at 20 oC during the day and 16 or 17 oC overnight.
- Keep it away from heaters.
- Water thoroughly with lukewarm water when the first inch of soil is dry to the touch, but do not leave any excess water in the saucer.
Prune and repot
- Towards the end of April, cut back all stems to a third of their height, leaving two or three leaves on each. This drastic pruning stimulates the growth of new shoots and a compact habit.
- Take the opportunity to repot your plant in a soil that drains well.
- Fertilization begins a week or two after repotting and continues until mid-September. Use a soluble fertilizer (1-1-1 ratio) once a month at first, then every two weeks, as soon as new leaves emerge.
Let it turn green in the garden
- Take your poinsettia outside for the summer, when nighttime temperatures remain above 13 oCelsius.
- Place it in a partially shaded place for ten days before exposing it to the sun.
- Proceed gradually – your protégé can get a sunburn even if it hails from hot climates!
- If you keep it inside, find it a sunnier place.
Make it turn red again
In mid-September, you can try to make it blush again. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America, where the nights are quite long. The secret of its color lies precisely in this fact: floral initiation of the poinsettia is not related to the length of the day, but the length of the night! This is a so-called “short day” plant, whose flowering begins when sunlight lasts less than 10 hours per day. To get ready for Christmas, your poinsettia must receive at least 14 hours of darkness daily for 8 to 10 weeks (mid-September to late November). Hide it in a box, because just lighting an incandescent lamp for a few minutes at night can ruin everything!
Once upon a time…
Mexican legend tells of one Christmas night when a little peasant girl stood weeping before the great cathedral of Cuernavaca. She watched the faithful enter the sanctuary with armfuls of gifts and was sad that she had nothing to give as an offering to the baby Jesus. An angel appeared to her suddenly and told her to go pick an armful of long stems that grew beside the road. The girl obeyed and brought these “weeds” into the church. When she approached the altar, the ends of the stems became covered with bright red flowers. It is said that from that day on, poinsettias have grown all across Mexico.
Visit our Green Pages for more tips and advice.