GETTING POINSETTIAS TO RE-BLOOM
Anne K Moore
are the most finicky of plants when it comes to saving them and getting those
beautiful colors to return. Most
gardeners who have tried to keep them from year to year end up buying new and
composting them after the holidays.
These held-over plants just never perform like the greenhouse
professionally grown plants.
Many gardeners, me included, believe they will
have better luck. They will want
to try for a repeat show at least once in their lifetime, so here's how:
September is not too early to get your Christmas
plants ready to flower. Poinsettias
outdoors should move indoors before the first frost. Bringing them in before turning the heat on helps the plants
acclimate more quickly to the drier enclosed air.
Keep the poinsettia away from heat vents, leaky
windows, and outside doorways. Heavy
air movement, from leaks, heat vents, or doors opening and closing can dry out
the leaves and soil. Leaves will
drop every time the plant dries out.
Leaves will also drop if the plant is kept too
wet. Try for middle moist
ground. Damp soil all of the time,
but not wet, will keep a poinsettia happy. Small plants growing in small pots usually need watering
once a day indoors in the dry heat.
Large pots might survive on water every other day.
Poinsettia flowers are trivial little yellow
affairs. They cluster in the
middle of colorful bracts,
what we often think of as the flower petals. In reality, these petals are colorful leaf-like structures
that surround the tiny flowers.
The true poinsettia flower is an insignificant yellow affair right in
the middle of each cloud of color.
(Euphorbia pulcherrima) has been, and still is, listed as a poisonous
plant in many places. An Ohio State University
study proved otherwise some years ago and numerous other studies have confirmed
their non-poisonous nature. Poinsettias
are actually quite safe, as safe as any houseplant might be. As with all plants, you will want to
discourage children, pets, and weird adults from eating any part of it as it
can cause stomach upset. The milky
sap that oozes from injuries to the branches can also cause skin irritation.
Some of us gardeners are more obsessive than
others. If you want to get your
poinsettia to re-bloom, you do have to be fanatical about putting it to bed
every night. It won't complain, as
teenagers do. Just cover it with a
dark cloth or move it into a closet at 5:00 p.m. Temperature is also important. For its deep sleep, the temperature should be around 50
Wake it up every morning at 7:45 a.m. and move it
into indirect light in a room with temperatures in the 65-70 degree F.
range. Let it bask in this
twilight all day. A Poinsettia
requires at least nine hours of light every day to set its tiny buds and
colorful bracts. If it gets more
than fourteen hours, it will remain a green plant and won't perform its
The poinsettia I saved last January was a
miniature that stayed fresh looking the whole season. The large beauties suffered all of the holiday indignities
of indoor heat and dryness. They
went on the compost pile last February.
The little one just looked too precious so I moved it outdoors in part
shade after the last frost.
its repositioning indoors a week ago, it is already suffering relocation shock. I am not as obsessive as I should
be. I sometimes forget the daily
water. It has dropped leaves from
the stress of drying out. It suffers
along with me in a 73-degree room day and night. I do not shuffle my plant off to bed or have it suffer the
indignity of a bag over its head at nightfall. It stays in an unused room with natural light. If you want success, you should do as I
say, not as I do.
Since there are so many beautiful colors and forms
every year, I prefer to treat my poinsettia plants as annuals and discard them
when they finish their display and/or drop all of their leaves. That is, until a precocious one comes
along, like this little guy, to charm me into trying a rescue just one more