The Poinsettia is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. How To Keep Poinsettia Plants Beautiful – Before & After Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful day. His son, Paul Ecke, Jr, sent free plants to television stations to use as set decorations from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Before you do so, you might want to repot it if it has outgrown the pot it came in. When you purchase your plants during the cold holiday season, make sure that they are wrapped up well to prevent them from getting chilled. At the end of July, you should prune your plant again. Locate plants so that they receive a fair amount of indirect light, but not direct sunlight through a window. During the holidays and throughout the winter, keep your plant in a sunny window. With the arrival of September, poinsettias are best returned to the house to ensure a minimum night-time temperature of about 16°C. Depending on when you want the poinsettia to be fully flowering and how you intend to care for them after flowering, determines on when you start flowering them. Outside, it will need to grow in a semi-shady location. This article may contain affiliate links. Poinsettia is more than just a Christmas flower. Poinsettias will bloom longest when kept between 70 and 75 degrees. Poinsettias need this prolonged period of darkness to rebloom. Flowering actually begins after about two months of this short-day treatment, about a month before Christmas. Poinsettia “blooms” are actually bracts, and not a flower at all. Poinsettia flowers are actually the tiny yellow structures found inside the colored bracts. If left wrapped too long, the stems of the leaves and bracts will begin to droop. An amateur botanist, Poinsett sent samples back home to the United States of a plant he discovered that had red blooms. In their eyes, the leaves growing in a star shape represented the Star of Bethlehem and the red color of the bracts represented Jesus' blood that was shed to cleanse the sins of believers. Poinsettia. Thanks. Fertilize at each of these points with a balanced, all-purpose organic fertilizer to provide strength to the plant. And what a rigmarole! He became fascinated with poinsettias and began selling them at a street stand in Los Angeles. Water only when the soil feels dry. There is little doubt the poinsettias are the official flower of the Christmas holiday season. Once you bring your poinsettia plants home, water them often— whenever the leaves are... 2) April - May: Decrease Watering and Begin Cutting. Question: When should you start poinsettia seeds to have a plant for Christmas? You can bring it outdoors during the day if you like. As you can see, these plants are DIVAS. To get plants to bloom around the holiday season, they need to go through a 6 to 8 week period of darkness to force the blooms. Question: When should you start poinsettia seeds to have a plant for Christmas? To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. So, flowering starts to be initiated starting at fall solstice (that would be September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere this year). How to Grow Poinsettias So They'll Re-Bloom Next Christmas 1) December - March: Basic Care. The association with Christmas began as a legend in 16th century Mexico. Don’t transplant poinsettia plants outdoors right after Christmas. Less than a decade later, the poinsettia (named for Poinsett) was being grown in nurseries around the United States. The first, and the biggest of all is proper watering. The large red bracts of poinsettias are often mistaken for flowers but they are actually leaves. They are often disposed of once they start to fade, but with a little care, you can keep them all year and the bracts will colour up again the following year. No plants are safe from my cats. Plant it directly into your garden or Give it a good trimming, into a nice rounded shape. They are native to Mexican forests. I'm sure someone (other than myself) will find this article very useful. So, where did the Christmas poinsettia come from? Continue the biweekly fertilization schedule. We have to delve into the sordid history of the poinsettia plant to find the answer. AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Poinsettias reign supreme as the main flowers of the holiday season. To get plants to bloom around the holiday season, they need to go through a 6 to 8 week period of darkness to force the blooms. As with over-watering, under-watering will cause a plant to lose it bracts and color prematurely as well. Flowers in a vase, houseplants, even the imitation/silk plants are chewed on. As spring and warmer temperatures arrive, you can take the plants outside. After-Christmas Care for Poinsettias. Higher temperatures will cause the plant to prematurely drop its colorful bracts. More than 2 million of them will be sold this year, making it the largest potted flower crop grown in the US. And when you do water, water so the soil is moist and damp, but not saturated. But more on that later. In addition to the traditional red, bracts can be pink, white, orange, and even purple. When poinsettia plants fail early in the season, it can most often be attributed to too much, or too little watering. Commercial greenhouses achieve this using opaque shade cloths to cover their plants at night. You will have to artificially create these conditions and it's crucial that you be diligent. Poinsettias are a shrub that grows from 2 to 13 feet in height. The legend tells of a young girl named Pepita or Maria who was so poor that she couldn’t afford to buy a gift to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. If your poinsettia is going to be a permanent resident in your garden, and you want it change colors in time for Christmas, plant it in a spot that stays completely dark for about 12-14 hours every night starting in early October. The color is created through the process of photoperiodism, meaning they require a specific number of hours of darkness each night to change from green to red or other colors. Continue to water as needed through the process. You can start planting poinsettia outdoors after all chance of frost has passed. As always, feel free to email us at thefarm@owgarden.com with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! Aside from the Christmas tree itself, no plant symbolizes Christmas quite like the poinsettia. If left wrapped too long, the stems of the leaves and bracts will begin to droop. Reduce their water supply a little at the same time, but ensure they are kept in a bright (but not sunny) position in the daytime. And to keep the bracts in tip-top shape all throughout the full holiday season, there are 3 simple keys to success. Once all of the leaves have died back, prune the bushes back to two buds and keep it in a bright location. To rebloom, poinsettias need about 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. Too much water will cause the leaves to turn yellow and then drop. Nevertheless, in spite of the effort involved, the reward is great. In late February or early March, prune your plant back to 4- to 6-inches leaving between one and three leaves on each stem. As days shorten and nights get longer, poinsettias and many other autumn and winter-flowering plants are triggered to bloom. The Poinsettia is a finicky plant to grow. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade. The second factor that can affect the longevity of blooms is the amount of heat in the room. As mid-January and February roll around, even the best-kept poinsettia plants will begin to fade. From October 1 to December 1 (or for at least 40 days), a poinsettia will need a strict light/dark regimen to produce color. An angel appeared to her and told her to gather weeds from the roadside and place them at the altar of her church. Poinsettia usually flowers in winter. Poinsettias are cheery plants that are widely grown indoors over Christmas for their brightly coloured bracts. Caring for Outdoor Poinsettia Plants Purchase a poinsetta plant in December this year and then follow my instructions to make it bloom again next year. But keeping them healthy and strong all through the season can be a challenge for many. You'll need to provide 13 to 16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily. Said star was the light that led the three wise men to the baby Jesus when he was born. By Linda Langelo | December 17, 2020 at 11:01 a.m. He even appeared on popular shows such as The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials to promote the plants. Once nights become longer in fall, bring the poinsettia indoors. Many varieties of poinsettia are available, with variegated foliage and bracts ranging from creamy white to blush pink. He gnaws on anything that even remotely resembles a plant. general purpose fertilizer every two to three weeks. Locating plants in a sunny windowsill will speed up their bloom time greatly. It should be neither dripping wet nor totally dry, and if it is, … That’s the whole secret to making a poinsettia bloom every year at Christmas. In order to encourage blooming, poinsettia plants require long periods of darkness at night (about 12 hours). They are native to Mexican forests. Don’t be alarmed, the plant may look quite pathetic at this point, but it will come back! Ideal air temperature is 60⁰F to 70⁰F. For best results, place the box over your plant at 5 pm (or whenever you return from work) and leave it there until 8 am (or whenever you leave for work) every day until color begins to show in the bracts when you remove the box in the morning. Continue to keep your poinsettias in a place with plenty of light and water as directed above. Long before Christianity reached the western hemisphere, the Aztecs cultivated poinsettia plants for a variety of medicinal purposes. Everyone loves colorful poinsettias during the holiday season, but once the holidays have passed, even if you have kept your plant alive, it won’t bloom again the following December. Miraculously, the weeds sprouted red flowers which became poinsettias. Generations of gardeners have put in the time to keep their Poinsettia alive and thriving for wintertime color. A symbol of resurrection Allow your plants to dry out completely between waterings. Poinsettias didn’t become a traditional holiday decoration until Paul Ecke, an American plant grower, grown them during the Christmas season. Do watch for shriveled brown stems, which are an indication that your lovely Christmas flower may be dying a slow death. Usually, within 2 to 3 weeks, you will begin to see new growth beginning to emerge. And that all begins with knowing a little about the plant, and it’s blooming cycle. They are grown in greenhouses which regulate the amount of light they get to force them into bloom at the proper time. They can be red, orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled. If possible, check the soil before buying. Once you have arrived home with your wrapped plants home, unwrap them immediately. Over-watering causes the most issues for poinsettia plants. As fall arrives, it is time to start preparing your poinsettia for holiday blooming! Once summer is over, bring your plants indoors before nighttime temperatures … And that’s it! Bring the plant out into indirect light for only about 8 hours each day, and then return to darkness. Next, place the plant in a sunny windowsill, continuing to water as needed. Simple really once you understand why the bracts change color. The more sun the better. In the fall, you will need to bring your plant back indoors when the nighttime temperatures are consistently below 45⁰F. This tropical plant loves heat and humidity – but not too much! Once the blooms have faded, begin by cutting the foliage and stems back to around 4″ above the soil surface. It's somewhat tricky to get your poinsettia to bloom again. A dark closet with easy access works best for this. Not only can overwatering lead to the yellowing of leaves, it can also rot away the root structure, killing the plant in the process. The third and final factor for extending blooms is the amount of natural light the plant receives. One other interpretation as to why people use poinsettias at Christmas is because the plant is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem. In the U.S., they are hardy only in zones 9 through 11, so they must be brought indoors during the colder months of the year. Question: Where can we get poinsetta plants that will bloom for December? When fall temperatures begin to drop, bring the plant indoors. Caren White (author) on November 08, 2017: Linda, I have the same problem! Overly warm rooms will shorten the bloom time of poinsettia plants, as will sitting them too close to a heat source such as a heat duct, fireplace or heater. Poinsettias make great holiday decorations and they’re often given as gifts in late November and throughout December. Although they look like a flowering blooms, bracts are instead a set of colorful leaves that form on top of the regular green foliage of the poinsettia. Start your seeds in the spring, but don't expect any flowers until the second Christmas after you plant them. This can be done once a month until the middle of August. The plants will enter a dormancy period and will begin to lose leaves—this is normal. As crazy at it sounds, it is darkness that will bring a poinsettia into full color. Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 08, 2017: We used to have poinsettias in our house each Christmas, that is, until a kitty adopted us. First, let’s start with how to care for poinsettias during their “blooming” season. Place Plants Inside. The trick is how to get them to bloom again the following year. No plant symbolizes Christmas quite like the poinsettia, especially the ruby-red variety. In the spring, once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50⁰F, you can bring your plant outdoors. The instructions post March are not quite as simple. Y0ur instructions are very clear and the photos are beautiful. Poinsettia plants need light to bloom, but again, not too much. Count back ten weeks from the date that you want your poinsettia to begin blooming, usually the end of September or beginning of October for an early to mid-December blooming. Poinsettias care isn't very difficult, but there are few things to know about these Christmas favourites to help them last longer. And although poinsettia plants have a bit of rap for being dangerous to pets and children – see our article on the myths of the poinsettia plant : Are Poinsettias Really Dangerous? Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. It might surprise you to learn that the red blooms are not the flowers; they are bracts or modified leaves! To promote the plants, he sent them to TV studios across the U.S. and the rest is history. His son, Paul Ecke, developed the technique of grafting two varieties of poinsettia together to produce bushier plants. Today, tens of millions of poinsettias are sold during the Christmas season. Start your seeds in the spring, but don't expect any flowers until the second Christmas after you plant them. At home, you can use a box large enough to cover your plant completely. October: Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning their bud set is affected by the length of daylight. Once you understand why the bright red flowers develop, it’s easy to force your poinsettia to bloom year after year. Cut it back to 4 inches, leaving one to three leaves on each stem, and begin fertilizing every two weeks. Since poinsettia plants are from the tropics, they prefer surroundings that simulate that type of environment. The Poinsettia. It can also damage the foliage as the sun’s rays filter through the glass. Looking to keep your poinsettia plants looking healthy and beautiful all through the Christmas season this year? It all started with an immigrant from Germany named Albert Ecke. 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