If you purchased or were gifted a poinsettia this holiday season you may be wondering how to care for it after Christmas. Most people will keep their poinsettia until the flowers die off a few weeks into the New Year and then throw them away. Did you know that you can actually grow your poinsettia all year long and force it to bloom the next Christmas? It is possible if you learn how to properly care for it. Check out these tips for poinsettia care after Christmas.
Table of contents
- How to keep your poinsettia alive after Christmas
- How long do they last after the holidays?
- How do you grow a poinsettia after Christmas?
- How do you get your plant to re-bloom and turn red?
- When should I prune my poinsettia?
- Why is my plant dropping leaves?
- What is the best fertilizer for poinsettias?
- Are poinsettias poisonous?
- Fun facts:
How to keep your poinsettia alive after Christmas
Poinsettias are not frost-tolerant. They will grow outdoors in temperate coastal climates, such as Southern California beach communities. In the ground, they can reach 10 feet tall. In nature, poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that were once considered weeds.
The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves). The yellow flowers, or cyathia, are in the center of the colorful bracts. The plant drops its bracts and leaves soon after those flowers shed their pollen. For the longest-lasting poinsettias, choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing.
How long do they last after the holidays?
A quality plant in the right location that is well-cared for can stay in bloom for up to six months. But that is unusual. Most poinsettias will last for 4 to 6 weeks before the bracts (flowers) begin to fall off.
Outdoors, these cheerful tropical plants can be cultivated year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.
In cooler climates, poinsettias need to be kept indoors, as freezing temperatures will kill the plant. Poinsettias are known to be temperamental plants. Dropped leaves are common, but with proper care, poinsettias with fallen foliage will recover their health.
How do you grow a poinsettia after Christmas?
Poinsettias like lots of direct light. Place your plants near a southern, eastern or western window and keep the soil moist while they are still in bloom. Put the poinsettia in a well-lit area away from drafts and heat vents.
Don’t let them sit in water. Instead, gently remove the plant from its container, soak it well and place it back in the pot. Water the poinsettia when the pot becomes lightweight or when the soil becomes dry to the touch, about once a week. Water the plant thoroughly in a sink, letting it drain, before putting it back where it was.
How do you get your plant to re-bloom and turn red?
Restoring a healthy green poinsettia plant from last year back to its original red color is no problem if you follow a few simple rules. Poinsettias need total darkness, for 14 hours each day, starting about eight weeks before you want to display them.
The colors of the bracts are created through "photoperiodism", meaning that they require darkness to change color. On the other hand, once Poinsettias finish that process, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.
From October 1 to December 1, (or for at least 40 days) a poinsettia will need a strict light / dark regimen to produce color. Provide 13 to 16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily. I recommend sticking it in a closet or cabinet where it is totally dark and forgetting about it until December. Then, bring it out of the closet and use a grow light to give it sunlight for 12 hours a day until the leaves are red.
When should I prune my poinsettia?
Prune off the old stems in late winter or early spring by cutting them back to 4 to 6 inches in height and leaving one to three leaves on each stem. This forces new growth to appear at the leaf axis and paves the way for a full plant that can support many blooms.
Why is my plant dropping leaves?
Poinsettias will classically drop their leaves if they are exposed to sudden changes in temperature, drafts or overly cool or dry rooms. They also will lose leaves and wilt in response to an extreme need for water.
What is the best fertilizer for poinsettias?
Cut off the flowers once they begin to fade and either add a pelleted slow release fertilizer to the soil or fertilize plants twice a month with a water soluble fertilizer or compost tea.
Are poinsettias poisonous?
Despite rumors to the contrary, poinsettias are not poisonous. I always tell people this and they always argue with me because they think they are poisonous.
A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than a pound-and-a-quarter of poinsettia leaves (500 to 600 leaves) to have any side effects. The most common side effects that have been reported are upset stomach and vomiting. Apparently the leaves taste awful (not that I've tried them) so it's highly unlikely that kids or even pets would be able to eat that many! But be aware that the leaves can still be a choking hazard for children and pets.
- Poinsettias contribute over $250 million to the U.S. economy at the retail level.
- California is the top U.S. Poinsettia-producing state.
- Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the United States and Canada.
- Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant. Most Poinsettias are sold within a six-week period leading up to that holiday, representing some $60 million worth.
Have you managed to make your poinsettia re-bloom? Let me know your best tips for poinsettia care after Christmas in the comments!