Once Christmas is over comes the decision of what to do with your beautiful poinsettia? You may want to keep it as an attractive green foliage plant (after all, the poinsettia is included on the list of houseplants most helpful in removing pollutants from indoor air!) and try to get it to re-bloom next year. ItвЂ™s not as difficult as you may think. But it does require vigilence.
Keep your poinsettia growing strong by placing it in a sunny location (indoors if you do not live in a tropical climate) for at least six hours a day. The daytime temperature should be around 70 F and the nighttime temp around 65 F. Temperatures below 50 F will cause chilling damage if you plan on leaving it in an enclosed outdoor porch. Avoid excessive drafts. Water it when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch and just enough until you see the water begin to come out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Discard any water that it could sit in as this will quickly cause root rot. Fertilize with a balanced, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer according to the label directions.
At the end of March cut back the stems of your poinsettia halfway to encourage new growth. By this time the bracts (the colorful part of the plant) have turned a muddy green. You may place your poinsettia outdoors during the spring and summer if the temperatures meet the above requirements and there is no danger of frost. Around June 1 it may be necessary to re-pot it into a bigger pot no more than 2-4вЂќ larger than the original. Use a fairly lightweight commercial potting mix and water-in thoroughly after transplanting. Keep up the fertilizer regime (probably once a week according to the manufacturerвЂ™s label directions) and avoid over-watering.
On July 4 cut back the stems again to 1/2 their original length. The plant will not look pretty, initially, but will soon have a lush canopy of new growth. Maintain the same light, temperature, watering and fertilizer requirements.
The poinsettia will begin to set flower buds as the winter nights grow shorter as it is a photoperiodic plant. It should come into full bloom (the blooms are actually the little yellow flowers in the middle of the colorful bracts) sometime in December. Starting October 1, your poinsettia must be kept in 14 hours of continuous, uninterrupted (not even a flashlight beam!) darkness for 14 hours a night, every night for 8-10 weeks. You can accomplish this by moving it into a dark closet or room or by placing a large box over it every evening and returning it to its sunny growing spot every morning 14 hours later. NO light should shine upon it during this critical dark night or the re-blooming process may be delayed or not occur at all. Make sure the night temperatures are between 60-70 F during this time also.
This final step is the part of the process that takes patience and diligence but the effort is well worth it when this time next year you are enjoying your beautiful blooming poinsettia. So start a heritage and keep it blooming!