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How to Grow and Care For Poinsettia

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poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the star plant of the holiday season, and with a few tips you can keep yourself looking happy and healthy through the Christmas season (and beyond if you don’t mind a little extra work).

While we are accustomed to seeing poinsettias during the colder months of the year, they are actually a tropical plant native to Mexico. The colorful leaves (from white to light pink to bright red) are the plant’s response to the short hours of sunlight in winter, which is why it does not flower all year round.

The “flowers” of the poinsettia are actually types of leaves called bracts, but there are small yellow flowers in the center (called bracts). Scyathia) which attract insects and fall after pollination.

Related: Learn how to care for Christmas Cactus, Pilea Plants, Monstera Plants, Calathea, Spider Plants, Fiddle Leaf Figs, Golden Pothos, Snake Plants, Rubber Trees, and String of Pearls Plants.

Poinsettia on the table
Poinsettia and watering can

How often should I water a poinsettia?

You’ll need to keep the soil moist but not soggy (which can lead to root rot), so feel the top of your soil and once it feels almost dry, it’s time to water again.

Use a bowl with Drainage holes at the bottom To prevent root rot, or if you like the decorative paper it comes with, remove it from the foil and water in the sink and place it back in the foil once the excess water has drained.

How much sunlight does a poinsettia need?

Indoors, poinsettias like bright, indirect sunlight, so keep them in a location where the light is bright but doesn’t reach the plant directly.

Pink poinsettia

Should I fertilize my poinsettia?

If you only keep your plant during the holiday season, there is no need to fertilize it. If you are trying to keep them after Christmas, you can fertilize them every month at half strength All-purpose fertilizer Once you see new growth starting to appear on the plant.

Temperature and humidity for poinsettia plants

Indoor poinsettias will do best in a temperature range of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and you will need to keep them above 50 degrees or they will be damaged or killed by the cold. If you want to decorate your balcony with them, you will have to live in a place where the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees Celsius at night. If you buy one from a store and it’s cold outside, keep it covered in a bag and don’t leave it in a cold car for hours before taking it inside.

As with most plants, you’ll need to keep your poinsettia away from areas with large temperature changes, so place it away from exterior doors, drafts, heating vents, etc.

Because they are tropical plants, poinsettias enjoy more humid places, so you can put a humidifier in the room with them to keep them happy.

Replant poinsettia plants

If you only keep your plant during the holiday season, you won’t need to worry about moving it to another pot.

If you are trying to keep it alive until the next holiday season, in late spring or early summer you can remove the plant from the old pot and carefully wash the old soil from the plant’s roots. Repot the poinsettia into a larger pot that is about 2 to 4 inches larger than the original container. use A pot with good drainage Choose a soil mix that contains plenty of organic matter (such as peat moss).

Pink poinsettia

Propagation of poinsettia plants

You can actually propagate poinsettia plants from cuttings and grow a new plant yourself within a few weeks. To propagate poinsettia:

  • Add potting soil to a small cup or bowl.
  • Use pruning shears to cut a 3-4 inch section of an actively growing branch and cut off the lower leaves, leaving the upper leaves to provide water to the plant.
  • Optional, but you can dip the cut end in it Rooting hormone Before sticking the cut end into the dirt.
  • Once the cut end is planted in soil, keep the new plant in a moist area out of direct sunlight. You do not need to water it because it will draw water from its leaves, but to increase the humidity you can spray the leaves with water and place a small plastic bag over the cup to encourage it to grow.
  • In about four weeks, you will see roots growing from the cutting and you can replant it Pot with drainage holes And start watering as usual.
Poinsettia

How to make poinsettia bloom

If you want to keep your plant alive all year long and see it bloom again next holiday season, you’ll need to give it some extra care because it can be quite finicky and special.

Start cutting off watering in April until the plant begins to dry out (but not so much water as the stem begins to wilt) and place it in an area with a temperature of about 60 degrees.

In mid-May, you can prune the plant back to about 4 stems and repot the plant in a slightly larger pot. Place the plant in a location with plenty of indirect light and start watering it regularly again. When new growth begins to appear, you can begin fertilizing it monthly.

Pinch the stems back once in July and again in August.

For the plant to thrive, it needs 10 weeks of 12 hours or less of sunlight each day, so starting in October, you’ll have to keep the plant fully without interruption Dark from 5pm to 8am daily. You can place the plant in a closet or even under a box in any warm but dark place!

It’s a lot of work but it’s a fun experiment to see if you can successfully emulate the darkness it needs to show its true colors.

Diagnose common problems

  • Wilted or curled leaves: The plant may need more water. Give it a good watering and see if the leaves rebound within a day or two.
  • Loss of leaves: Leaf loss can be due to many factors such as underwatering, overwatering, extreme cold or extreme drought in the climate. If the soil dries out and leaves fall, try watering to see if that brings the plant back to its natural state. If the soil looks wet as it falls, you may be overwatering and need to let the soil dry almost completely between waterings. Check to make sure the plant is away from cold areas (such as next to a window or near a drafty door) and you can try a humidifier or plant vaporizer if you suspect the air is too dry for the plant.
  • – Yellowing of the lower leaves: If your plant’s lower leaves are yellowing and falling off, it may be because it’s not getting enough light and you may need a sunny location with more indirect light.

Frequently asked questions

Is poinsettia toxic to humans or animals?

While the plant’s sap can cause a rash, the plant itself is not as poisonous as historically thought. It is not fatal if ingested, but children or pets can develop an oral rash and stomach upset if ingested, so it is best to leave it out of reach.

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