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  • Writer's pictureBath Garden Center

3 Poinsettia Plant Care Tips for the Holiday Season

Poinsettias are possibly the most popular holiday plants, aside from Christmas trees. Their vibrant and festive colors bring life to any corner or display, making them the perfect holiday decoration! And while these plants are usually only kept for the holiday season, they require certain care to stay looking their best all season long. So, if you are wondering how to care for a poinsettia plant, or if you are looking for poinsettia care tips, look no further! We will cover all of these things and more in this blog.

Why Are Poinsettias Associated with Christmas?

Associated with Christmas

First, since this is something on so many peoples' minds, we are going to answer the question of why poinsettias are associated with Christmas. First, they are native to southern Mexico where they bloom naturally around the Christmas season, making them the perfect plants for Christmas. Priests in southern Mexico are said to have decorated nativity scenes with the bright red flowers. The flowers were also said to resemble the star of Bethlehem in the nativity story, which is another reason for their use around the holiday season. The different colors of poinsettias are even said to have some religious significance, with the red representing the blood of Christ, and the white representing the purity of Christ. There are numerous other Mexican legends that tie poinsettias to Christmas. And while the poinsettia finds its roots in Mexico, it was quickly found to be very popular in the United States as well, and methods were developed to cultivate these plants indoors for the holiday season sometime around the 1900s.

How To Care for a Poinsettia Plant

Poinsettia plants, just like any other plants, require a certain level of care if they are to stay looking healthy and beautiful throughout the holiday season. Here are some poinsettia care tips that are good to be aware of!

Poinsettia Light Requirements

The ideal lighting for poinsettias is bright indirect light. If you place your poinsettia in a spot where sunlight is in direct contact with your poinsettia, this could cause burn damage to the leaves and bracts of the plant. Too much direct sun could also cause stress to the plant, resulting in it simply dropping its leaves. Conversely, too little light will result in the stunted growth of the plant and dulled colors in the flower bracts. Generally, east-facing windows get a generous amount of indirect light. You could also place it several feet away from any south or west-facing windows to avoid too much sun exposure.

Watering Requirements for Poinsettias

Poinsettias prefer their soil to remain slightly moist. They can, however, be sensitive to overwatering, so be careful not to water your poinsettia so much that the soil stays soggy for days at a time. A good general rule of thumb is to water your plant until water begins to come out of the drainage holes in the bottom of its container. It is easiest to leave the plant in the sink to allow all the excess water to drain. You can also let a saucer catch the excess water, just make sure to pour the excess water out of the saucer so it is not sitting in a puddle for an extended amount of time. Check the soil again in a week or two. If the top two inches of soil are dry to the touch, it's time to repeat the process!

Avoid Air Vents or Drafty Windows

Like the majority of other indoor houseplants, poinsettias will not react well to fluctuating temperatures or especially dry areas. Their ideal temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and they prefer humidity levels between 50% and 70%. Avoid placing them near drafty windows, heat vents, fireplaces, space heaters, or any other places where frequent hot or cold air will dry them out or send them into a shock. You can always place a humidifier nearby as well to boost the humidity in an area if you begin to notice crispy leaves.

How To Rebloom Poinsettias After the Holidays

Rebloom Poinsettias After the Holidays

One question people always ask is how to grow poinsettias year-round and get them to rebloom in subsequent holidays. While this process is by no means impossible, it is often more work than people are willing to put into a poinsettia when a new one can just be bought next year. But, in case you are interested or want to give it a try, here are the steps for how to get your poinsettia to rebloom next year!

1. Check the root system.

The health of your poinsettias root system is going to be key. If your poinsettia does not have strong and healthy roots, it is very unlikely that it will survive. So, before we begin, pull your poinsettia out of its pot and check the roots. If more than half of the roots appear to be white and healthy, your plant is in good shape. If more than half the roots appear brown, this means they are dead or dying. If your roots are in this state, it will not be worth trying to rebloom your plant for next year.

2. Prune your poinsettia.

You can prune your poinsettia right after the holidays or you can wait until all the flower bracts have fallen off. Either way, you will want to prune the branches of your poinsettia back significantly. It is ideal to cut it back just above the first node of each branch. This will leave your poinsettia looking rather twiggy and sad, with just an inch or two of stems sticking up out of the soil, but this creates the framework of the plant for the next season!

3. Repot your poinsettia into a smaller pot.

Now that you have pruned and cut back your poinsettia, you will want to replant it into a smaller container. Generally, you want to repot it into a container that is one size smaller than its current container. Gently tease the roots to loosen the soil then place it into its new container and fill in the extra space with new soil.

4. Water sparingly.

Now that all the vegetation is cut back, your poinsettia will not require much water. It is at this point that you actually want the root ball of your poinsettia to dry out. Think of your poinsettia as a cactus now and water it with just a half cup of water every 2 weeks. Make sure the root ball is completely dried out before watering again by pulling the plant out of its pot and inspecting the soil. Watering your poinsettia too much will cause the roots to rot and the plant to die.

5. Watch your poinsettia grow!

Watch your poinsettia grow

After around 6 weeks or so, your poinsettia should begin to produce new growth. At this point, you can begin to treat it like a normal houseplant. You can fertilize it periodically and may need to increase the amount you water it. You can also pinch back new shoots to encourage branching. This will result in a more full and bushy plant for the holidays. Keep in mind, your poinsettia will just consist of green leaves and will not have any flower bracts.

6. Create the right environment to encourage blooming.

For poinsettias to rebloom, they require 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day for a period of 6-8 weeks. This is the most sensitive part of the process if you want your poinsettia to turn pretty colors for the holidays! So, starting in mid-September, you will need to cover your poinsettia with a box at night and uncover it in the morning once it has had 12 hours of darkness. We recommend setting a timer and taping any seams on the box as well to make sure no light leaks through. Given that everything has gone according to plan, your poinsettia should begin to show color around the beginning of November and should be brightly colored and beautiful in time for the holidays!

Poinsettia Care Tips

While we have done our best to cover the basics of poinsettia plant care, there is always more to know! So, if you have any additional questions about how to care for a poinsettia plant or are looking for additional poinsettia care tips, let us know. We are always happy to help with any of your planting endeavors and love getting to share our love of plants with you!

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