Success with Poinsettias
Every year our customers look forward to coming to the nursery and bringing home lots of lovely poinsettias for the holiday season. While poinsettias can be great, low maintenance holiday decor, here are some tips and tricks to make sure your plants are happy and long lasting, and even get them to last year after year.
Watering is the most important thing. You want your poinsettia soil to stay moist but not too wet. Not too dry! If you let your plant wilt all the way down all those leaves will drop off. Ugly! If you let it sit in water, the roots will rot and your plant will not last long. If your poinsettia is in a foil pot cover remove it when watering. Crushed or cubed ice are an easy way to water. 1 cup of ice cubes makes about ¾ cup of water and melts slowly.
How Often? Indoors at least twice a week for a 6” pot. More often for smaller sizes. Use your common sense and your fingers or a water meter. Feel the soil. Cool and moist, your plant is fine. Warm and dry, it’s time to water. Wet and soggy, you watered too much or let your plant sit in water.
When you buy your poinsettias from Weidner’s they come right from our own greenhouses and have never traveled hundreds of miles in a box or sat in a dark warehouse for weeks. This can cause damage to the roots that you cannot see and affects the health of your poinsettia after it gets into your home.
Finding the right spot. Poinsettias are best in a bright light spot, but decorating for the Holiday season is important so place your poinsettias where they will show off the best. Don’t put them near a heater vent or in a cold draft.
Can you put your poinsettia outside? Yes, you can. but rain, extreme heat or really cold weather may damage the quality of your blooms. They will still look good, just not as perfect as inside. Outdoor potted poinsettia watering will vary with the weather. Hot dry windy days will make your poinsettias dry out quickly. The smaller the pot size the quicker they dry out.
Tip: Potted poinsettias outside dry out more quickly and easily topple over. Get a second slightly larger pot, add some gravel or a few rocks for weight and your poinsettias will stay standing. Weidner’s has lots of gravel paths and lots of larger plastic pots. When you buy your poinsettias, and are planning on using the ‘Extra Pot” method we are happy for you to scoop up a little gravel at the same time.
Fertilizer: Once your poinsettia is fully in bloom it doesn’t need to be fertilized. After the Holidays you can begin to feed lightly.
After the Holidays. The blooms on your poinsettias will continue to look good long after the Holidays are over. It’s not uncommon for your poinsettia’s blooms to last well into the summer. As long as your plant looks good enough for you go ahead and enjoy it. Throw it away when you are tired of it.
If you want to try to re-bloom your plant for next Christmas then you need to follow some simple steps.
Important fact. Your poinsettia will not begin to grow again until you cut off the colored blooms. If you are planning to try to make your poinsettia bloom again waiting until July does not work.
Mark your calendar now! Around St Patrick’s Day cut off the blooms. Leave at least 6 to 8 inches of growth. You may have almost no leaves and that is OK. Put your awful looking poinsettia in a warm spot and just let it sit for a few weeks. Not dry but not very wet either. Soon you should see new growth beginning. After that you can begin to fertilize lightly with a liquid feed like Weidner’s Good Stuff. Half strength if you are using a liquid food. You don’t want your plant to grow too fast. You can cut it back again in mid-summer to keep it short if you have a large plant that is growing too fast.
In order for your plant to bloom by late November or early December it needs to have at least 12 or more hours of black dark each night for at least 8 to 10 weeks. Find a large cardboard box or clean out a space in a closet. Make it a rule…. In by dinner and out to a warm sunny spot by breakfast. Try not to let any light get in during the night period. Even a little light will affect the reblooming time.
Once your poinsettia’s top leaves begin to change color you can stop the dark night treatment and place your poinsettia in a warm bright spot. The rest of the bracts will gradually change color. Will your poinsettia look as good as one at Weidner’s? Probably not but that is OK. You did it and give yourself an A plus!
A word about the famous Ecke family. Your poinsettia started its journey to becoming the traditional Christmas flower right here in Encinitas. The Ecke family still lives here locally although the Ecke poinsettia varieties are now sold through a large multi-national plant company. The breeding of new poinsettias is still taking place on the original Ecke Greenhouse property on Saxony Street in Encinitas.
One more thing. Poinsettias are not poisonous. They don’t taste very good and all plants should be out of reach of toddlers or pets that like to munch on your plants.
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