Poinsettias – They’re Not Just for Christmas

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Nothing says Christmas holidays like a poinsettia! But this beautiful plant isn’t only meant for the winter holiday season. Besides being a large, beautiful flower, poinsettia indoor care is effortless. Caring for this plant is not difficult, and only one thing is challenging: getting it to bloom next year for the holidays.

Traditional poinsettia plants are bright red in color, making them suitable for holiday décor. But there are many colors of poinsettia. It is helpful to learn more about the history of poinsettia to understand how to care for it the best way.

Poinsettia Origin

Poinsettia Origin

Many countries around the world use poinsettias during the Christmas holidays. It was used in ancient times by Mexicans who recognized its ability to reduce fever. The Aztecs used it to dye clothing, and by the 17th century, it became known as worthy of Christmas celebrations.

At that time, the monks included it in their Christmas processions. The red and green colors of the poinsettia became traditional Christmas colors, and it became known in Mexico as the Flower of the Holy Night. Its deep red color spreads warmth and cheer.

The flower quickly became associated with the holidays, and knowledge of its beauty spread. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, brought the plant back to America. The plant received the name “poinsettia” after Joel Poinsett.

Poinsettia Selection

Poinsettia Selection

Supermarkets are the leading sales point of poinsettias, but if your store has not treated your poinsettia with proper care, it may be best to look elsewhere for your plant. A damaged plant may look healthy, but it might only last for a short time.

Many stores place poinsettia displays at the entrance and exit of the stores, wanting their customers to be awed by their beauty as they enter or exit the store. Each time the automatic door opens, the plants are subjected to outdoor temperatures, which may be too cold or too hot for the plant.

Finding a Healthy Poinsettia

Finding a Healthy Poinsettia

Poinsettia indoor care is the most crucial factor in whether the plant you purchase will make it long-term. Look for poinsettias that follow these tips:

  • The plant is not wrapped in cellophane. If it is, it may not drain properly. Most poinsettias have red paper around the plant’s pot. This is for decoration only and should not stay on the plant after purchase. It is ideal to even replant in fresh soil to prevent root rot.
  • The poinsettia should be full of green leaves and red blooms. If any areas look dead, the rest of the plant probably is not far behind.
  • It should have large flowers on all sides. Uneven plant growth indicates the plant has not received optimal sunlight to thrive.
  • Green leaves should be down to the soil in the pot. Ensure the plant doesn’t appear as if someone is trimming off dying areas to sell it even though it is unhealthy.
  • It should have red or green flower tips in the middle. Most plants are sold in stores with yellow middles, and yellow middles indicate matured, meaning they will not last as long as those with red or green centers.

When taking a poinsettia outside the store, ask the florist to place a sleeve on the pot and cover the plant’s top with a bag or other material. This will protect the poinsettia from hot or cold temperatures. Some supermarkets with floral departments will do this for you.

Poinsettia Indoor Care

Poinsettia Indoor Care

Check to see if the poinsettia needs water as soon as you get home. Remove the sleeve from the pot if it has one. Water liberally but be sure that the pot has holes in the bottom for drainage.

If the flowerpot does not have drainage holes in the bottom, it will be necessary to repot the poinsettia in one with holes. The new pot should be a few inches bigger than the former pot to allow root growth and expansion.

Keeping Your Poinsettia Beautiful

Keeping Your Poinsettia Beautiful

Find a sunny area in your home for your poinsettia plant. Poinsettias love the sun, and they need indirect sunlight for as many hours as possible, up to twelve hours per day. You may want to plan ahead to transfer the plant from a windowsill or shelf to your decorated area when you are having a celebration.

It is often better to place the poinsettia on a plant stand in front of a window. The plant may be too cold by the window, and if any flower parts touch a freezing window, it will damage the plant.

Other Tips for Poinsettia Indoor Care

Other Tips for Poinsettia Indoor Care

The position where you place your poinsettia is one of the most critical steps in giving it the proper care. Poinsettias like warmth and not drafts from windows or doors. A blast of heat from a nearby heating vent may even be harmful.

Since water drainage is essential to the poinsettia, some gardeners find that watering the plant in the sink and allowing it to drain for a while solves this dilemma.

Since the poinsettia is a tropical plant, it thrives in a humid room. If a humidifier is available, it would be helpful to keep it in the same room as your poinsettias. Another tip that often helps the poinsettia is to keep additional plants in the room with the poinsettia to add more humidity.

Decide if you will keep your poinsettia after the holidays. The poinsettia will not bloom again this season once the red petals fall off, and all leaves turn green until it blooms the following year. You can do some things to help it bloom again, but it takes devotion and a bit of work.

Tips for Reblooming the Poinsettia After the First Year

Tips for Reblooming the Poinsettia After the First Year

Many people do not have the time or patience to work with the poinsettia to help it flower again the following year. Others do not know that it is possible for the plant ever to rebloom.

If you want to see the gorgeous deep red blooms on your plant again, some definite steps must be taken. When your poinsettia plant begins to grow flowers, you will probably think that the process was worthwhile!

Here are the steps to help the poinsettia bloom again:

  • Step 1 – Cut the plant down or prune the stems to about four or five inches. Keep about three leaves attached to each stem. This will stimulate the plant to grow back.
  • Step 2 – Apply general house plant fertilizer twice a month.
  • Step 3 – Repot the plant around June or July.
  • Step 4 – Move the poinsettia outside in its pot when the weather is relatively warm day and night.
  • Step 5 – Cut about one inch from each stem when they begin to grow. Do this in mid-summer.
  • Step 6 – Bring your plant inside and place it in sunlight for twelve hours and in a dark spot for twelve hours each day when fall arrives.
  • Step 7 – Stop the light and dark rotation around the middle of November since the plant may have begun blooming by that time of year.
  • Step 8 – Display the flowering poinsettia and enjoy how it adds beauty to your décor!

Poinsettias – The Wrap-up

Poinsettia indoor care is effortless. Three basic steps will result in a beautiful plant that will last through December and beyond. One, water when the soil feels dry but is not cracked or overdried. Two, drainage is crucial. If you use a saucer below the pot, empty the extra water after each watering. Your poinsettia should not sit in water. Three, provide warm temperature and sunlight.

Regular poinsettia care does not include the dark and light schedule, which only forces reblooming the following year. It is part of the normal poinsettia life cycle to turn completely green once the growing season is over.

Most people choose the easier way to take care of the poinsettia, and this is a good choice if you only plan to use it in your décor for a few weeks. Simply follow the three steps above if this is your plan.

FAQ

Yes, you can use cuttings from the plant to do this. Plant the cutting in potting soil and follow the dark/light process to force growth at the proper time of the year. Your cutting should be from a new stem that has not yet produced blooms.

You do not need to prune or cut back the stems unless you plan to keep your poinsettia after the holidays. After outdoor planting, they should also be pruned before moving them back indoors for the cooler seasons.

The poinsettia can be planted outdoors around the middle of March. You can add a few inches of compost on top of the soil to stimulate growth. The poinsettia can reach up to eight feet in warm, tropical weather such as Mexico.

It is best never to fertilize a blooming poinsettia. However, it is okay to fertilize it after the red flower leaves have fallen off. If you plan to keep the poinsettia, fertilize it once every two weeks or once a month with general plant fertilizer.

If you want your poinsettia to last as long as possible and to be a healthy, blooming plant, it is best to follow the tips in this article. You can simply set it on a table and water it every few days, and it may survive. Most plants may only live a week or two in this environment.

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