With Thanksgiving only days away, how better to add some natural color and life to your home with a vibrant poinsettia in full bloom? Although traditionally associated with the holiday season, your poinsettia doesn’t need to have a New Year’s Day curtain call. Proper care can allow this houseplant to last for several seasons.
When you bring your store-bought poinsettia home, be sure to keep it in a location conducive to healthy growth. Although generally seen as a holiday decoration, this is a living plant and should be treated like any other houseplant. Keep it in a spot where it will receive about 6 hours of indirect sunlight, and don’t expose it to hot or cold temperature extremes. Poinsettia’s prefer temperatures around 70° F.
Watering is an area of caution for poinsettias. First ensure that the pot it came in has drainage holes. If you are displaying the flower in a decorative container, be sure to dump out excess water regularly so it doesn’t build up and cause root rot. Water the plant only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Although they don’t need much water, they do like moisture. Mist the plant occasionally with a spray bottle.
After the poinsettia has stopped blooming (usually in February or March), transplant the plant to a larger planter and prune back the leaves so the plant is about 8” tall. Water regularly and fertilize biweekly. When temperatures are above 50° F, the poinsettia can enjoy fresh air outdoors on your patio.
When October rolls around, the plant will require an odd light exposure schedule to ensure it blooms for the holidays. Provide 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight each day and 14 hours of complete darkness at night. To ensure no stray light disturbs its beauty sleep, keep it in a closet or shed where it can enjoy 60 – 70° F temperatures. Continue this maintenance process for about 8 weeks, and your poinsettia will be ready to bloom for the holiday season!