Care Instructions for Poinsettias
The poinsettia, native to Mexico, has become a traditional plant that can be seen in many homes around the winter holidays. If you give your poinsettia plant a bit of extra tender loving care, the poinsettia will stay pretty for several weeks, and sometimes several months. If you're dedicated and willing to put in some extra time throughout the year, you may be able to induce your poinsettia to bloom for another Christmas.
Place your poinsettia where the plant will be exposed to six hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day. Don't place the plant too close to windows that will be hot during the day or cold at night.
Place the poinsettia in a moderately warm room with daytime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the poinsettia into a cooler room at night, with temperatures about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Touch the soil every day and water if the surface feels dry. If the poinsettia is wrapped in foil, poke a few holes in bottom of the foil so excess water can drain.
Fertilize the poinsettia every other week, using a good general-purpose liquid fertilizer. Read the fertilizer label to determine the application rate for blooming plants.
Decrease watering the poinsettia after April 1, then allow the soil to dry until it's slightly damp. Don't allow the plant to wilt. Place the poinsettia in a cool room with temperatures maintained at about 60 degrees until mid-May. Don't fertilize the plant during this time.
Cut the shoots down to about 4 inches and re-pot your poinsettia in a larger pot in mid-May. Use a container with a drainage hole. Fill the container with any commercial potting soil. Resume the plant's normal watering and fertilizing schedule.
Move the plant outdoors into a shaded spot in June, then bring it back indoors and place it in indirect, bright light in late August. Pinch the plant back before you bring it indoors, leaving only three or four leaves on each shoot. Continue to water and fertilize the plant.
Place the poinsettia in a dark room in early October and leave it until Thanksgiving. To force the poinsettia to bloom in time for Christmas, the room should be dark between early evening and 8 a.m. If necessary, cover the plant with a box or place the plant in a closet during the night. Continue to water and fertilize the plant as normal. Bring the plant out at Thanksgiving, and it should bloom by Christmas.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.