Poinsettias are a holiday favorite for decorating and gift-giving. Most people find that they are very seasonal though. However, you can keep a poinsettia alive and well. You can even get them to re-bloom. It just takes some know-how and willingness to provide it with what it needs when it needs it.
After the holidays when the blooming has ceased, you need to limit the amount of water that it gets so that it can enter into dormancy until spring. Then, around March or April, you may resume watering and begin fertilizing.
Prune back the plant to about 6 inches above the top of the container and re-pot if necessary. Poinsettias can be kept outside, after danger of frost has passed, in a bright area or they can be gradually acclimated to full sun during the summer. You may want to pinch out the tops of the plants to encourage more branching.
With the return of fall and shorter days, you will need to move your poinsettia inside. You will begin to decrease water and fertilizer again around September and limit your poinsettia's light exposure to less than 12 hours. At this time you will need to place a cardboard box over your plant or place it in a closet for at least 12 hours of complete darkness. Any light source will affect the coloring of the bracts. Even something as subtle as a streetlight outside your window at night will delay the color of your poinsettia.
We have included a simplified version:
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER
Enjoy your new poinsettia for the holidays
Reduce watering and allow the plant to go dormant.
Prune back your poinsettia and begin to water and fertilize
MAY – SEPTEMBER
Allow your poinsettia to get plenty of bright light. You may put your poinsettia outside in a protected area, to begin with, and then gradually move it to full sun if you wish so that it gets plenty of light. Continue to water regularly and fertilize. You may want to pinch the top out of the poinsettia to encourage more branching.
SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER
You will want to begin to shorten the light exposure for your plants. Bring them inside, place a cardboard box over them or put them into a closet at night and increase their dark time to 12 hours per night. Give them plenty of light in the day. Decrease watering just a bit until the bracts are fully colored. At this time you can increase its light exposure and resume normal regular watering but do not fertilize after the bracts begin to color.
ENJOY YOUR POINSETTIA FOR ANOTHER HOLIDAY SEASON!
We must emphasize once again, ANY light source, even as subtle as a night light or a candle, will affect the color of the poinsettia tremendously.