The poinsettia plant is a popular flowering Christmas ornamental native to Mexico. The red, pink or cream flower-shaped leaves surround the true flowers that are yellow and small. Poinsettia plants prefer short-day conditions and moist soil. The poinsettia is a close relative to desert plants and will drop leaves when allowed to wilt from lack of water. Proper care of a poinsettia will increase its longevity and stimulate blooming for multiple years.
Poinsettia Plant Care
Water poinsettia plants regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet. Do not allow the plant to wilt because of lack of water. Remove the bottom foil or wrapping to prevent water from pooling at the bottom of the container because this will promote root rot.
Place the plant in a location that is free from air drafts, both hot and cold. A location that is well lighted, but not in direct sun, with a temperature that is 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Stop watering the poinsettia once the flower is finished blooming. The leaves will turn yellow and fall from the plant. Move the plant to a cool location with a temperature of 50 to 60 F until the spring season. Water the plant lightly only to prevent the roots from drying.
Place the poinsettia in a warm indoor location in spring. Prune the stems to 6 inches.
Divide the poinsettia plant if there is more than one in the pot. Plant each in a pot using a well-draining houseplant potting soil. Place the plants in a sunny location, preferably with a southern exposure.
Move the plants outdoors once the danger of frost is gone. Bury the pots in a flower bed that has wind protection and afternoon shade. Pull the pots up periodically to prevent the roots from growing into the soil.
Cut back new shoots throughout the summer growth, keeping two pairs of leaves. Stop cutting back the plant after mid-August.
Water the poinsettia plants so the soil remains moist, but not wet. Apply a liquid complete fertilizer every two weeks.
Bring the plants inside prior to the start of cool, fall weather and place in a well-lighted southern exposure.
Eliminate light during the evening hours starting October 1 as even dim light will prevent flower budding. Cover the poinsettia with a dark bag or cover if the location is lighted. Remove the covering each day by 8 a.m. This will stimulate bloom growth.