Selecting your Poinsettia
Poinsettia seeds can be challenging to find, so if you are planning to buy a grown Poinsettia you will need to choose wisely. Keep in mind that the Poinsettia you choose has to have dark green foliage. If the Poinsettia is low or has damaged leaves it indicates poor handling or fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem. The colorful flower bracts (red, pink, white or bicolor pink and white leaves) should be in proportionate to the plant and pot size so that the bracts are not extremely large or small. If the weather is cold, be sure to wrap up the plant well for the trip from the store to the car. Cold exposure, for even a small period of time, can damage your new Poinsettia plant before it is even home.
Late Winter and Early Spring Care
With great care your Poinsettia can last for several months with its colorful bracts. During this time, side shoots will develop below the bracts and grow up above the old flowering stems. To have a well-shaped plant for the following year, you need to cut each of the old flowering stems or branches 4 to 6 inches in height. Cutting the plant will cause the buds to grow and develop new ones. It is preferable to do this around February or early March. To obtain the maximum glow of your Poinsettia, keep it a sunny window at a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F and water only when dry. Fertilize as needed; recommended every 2 weeks.
Late Spring and Summer Care
By this time, your Poinsettia should have grown and is in need for a larger pot. To fully bloom your Poinsettia, it is best to use sterilized garden soil, peat moss, sand vermiculite or perlite plus 1 tablespoon of superphosphate per pot and mix thoroughly.
During this time, night temperatures exceed 50 degrees F therefore, when planted on grown, pick a slightly shaded spot. Remember that the plant may need to be watered more frequently than the rest of your garden. Between May and August, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving about one, to three leaves on each shoot and fertilize. If night temperatures go above 70 to 75 degrees F may delay or prevent flowering.
The cold weather is arriving and to avoid a chilling incident, place your poinsettia indoor during the night and back outdoors in the daytime when temperatures are warm enough or in a sunny window. Don’t forget to fertilize every 2 weeks. To flower your Poinsettia again, you must keep the plant in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily from the end of September until color shows in the bracts (usually early to mid-December). The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees F. If you follow this procedure the poinsettia will flower just in time for the Christmas Holiday!