The holidays are behind us. Did you receive a Poinsettia as a gift?
Did you know the large-colored parts, commonly thought to be the flowers, are modified leaves called bracts? The flowers are greenish-yellow and are found clustered in the center of the bracts.
You can reflower your Poinsettia for the 2022 holiday season. It may be a bit of a challenge, but it is better than tossing them into the compost pile.
From January through March, place the Poinsettia by a sunny window and remove any foil or pot covers from the pot it is growing in.
If humidity in the home is below 35%, place Poinsettia on a pebble tray. A pebble tray is a tray with pebbles or small stones. Place water in the trays to cover half to three quarters up the pebbles.
Place the Poinsettia on the top of the pebbles. As the water evaporates in the pebble tray, it raises the humidity around your Poinsettia. Remember to replenish the water as needed. Remember to also water the Poinsettia when soil is dry to the touch.
Do not fertilize during these months. During the cold, it will be common for the Poinsettia to drop most of its leaves, yet retain its flowering color of the bracts.
In early April, cut back the Poinsettia to within 4 -6 inches of the soil. Keep in sunny window and water as needed.
When new growth begins to appear normally in late April, this is the time to repot the plant. Choose a pot that has drainage holes and is about two inches wider and an inch or two deeper than your current pot.
Poinsettias do not like heavy soils; they are very susceptible to root rots. Choose a potting soil with a good amount of organic matter such as peat moss and is very well- drained. During May, begin fertilizing with a dilute fertilizer.
Once the danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures remain above 50° F, move the poinsettia outdoors, exposing it to direct sun gradually over a week or two to allow it to acclimate to the outdoors.
Eventually, place it in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight, with some shade in the afternoon. Either sink the pot into the ground or leave it above (remember, pots above ground may need water more frequently).
To keep the poinsettia from getting too leggy, pinch off the shoot tips, choosing tips with two or three fully expanded leaves below them. Do this every three or four weeks until mid-August to keep the plant compact and bushy.
Water the poinsettia regularly and fertilize it every couple of weeks.
In early September, it’s time to bring the poinsettia back inside and place it back in a sunny window and pebble tray. Continue to water and fertilize every couple of weeks.
Now comes the tricky part. This step is critical to get the Poinsettia to flower for Christmas 2022.
Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning they grow vegetatively during times where there are long days and produce flowers when exposed to short days – or, more specifically, to long nights.
For the plant to rebloom in time for Christmas, it needs to be in complete darkness from 5 p.m.-8 a.m. and in daylight from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Start this process at the end of September until the bracts develop good color, usually by early December. This routine must be kept up every day including weekends. Providing uninterrupted darkness can be a problem for gardeners, unless there is a room in which lights are never turned on. If you don’t have such a room, place the poinsettia in a dark closet, or cover it with a cardboard box each night for the required 14 hours. If using a cardboard box, tape all the seams with duct tape to cut off any light.
Poinsettias take anywhere between 8-11 weeks to flower once the dark treatment has been started. For every night that the dark treatment is missed, two days must be added to the bloom time.
Poinsettias are very finicky; something as innocent as turning on a light at night for 10-15 minutes can be enough to disrupt the blackout period and prevent flowering.
Also, temperature at night needs to be below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit preferred. Continue to water and fertilize throughout November. During December, quit fertilizing and water as needed.
With a little attention, keep Poinsettias going and reflowering for years to come.