Poinsettia also called the Christmas flower, is widespread throughout the Americas and can be grown as a shrub in gardens, or as an indoor plant. Its main attraction is the striking red, pink, white or yellowish bracts that adorn the top, and which are often confused with flowers. Learn all about How to Care for Poinsettias in this post.
The scientific name of this species is (Euphorbia pulcherrima), and in other parts of America, it is known as Inca flower, poinsettia, Andean wreath, etc.
As previously stated, the poinsettia can be grown both inside the house and in the garden or patio (where it can reach 16 ft (5 m) in height). When planted outdoors, a site with good lighting should be chosen, not exposed to air currents or sudden temperature changes. It is not recommended to place it in gardens when frequent frosts and temperatures below zero are registered in the area.
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The real flowers are very small; they are those little yellow buttons that grow in the center of the rosette that forms the bracts.
Its flowers are one of the best indicators when buying this plant, the more closed the buds the better; it means that it is yet to flower and a good sign that the specimen will last for months.
Its flowers from late fall to late winter, even until early spring, but that will depend on the care given.
How to Care for Poinsettias: Weather
When planting outdoors, choose a site with good lighting, not exposed to air currents or sudden temperature changes. It is not recommended to place it in gardens when frequent frosts and temperatures below zero are registered in the area.
They should receive as much light as possible when they are in bloom. The leaves fall in low light.
The temperature should be between 59-62 °F (15-17 ºC) at night and 68-77 °F (20-25 ºC) during the day. It should not fall below 50 °F (10 ºC). If the leaves fall without anything happening, perhaps it is because of the cold.
How to Care for Poinsettias: Soil
The most suitable soil for the development of this plant is a well-drained substrate enriched with compost.
How Often Do you Water Poinsettias
As for the watering, at the beginning it should be abundant but always when the soil has completely absorbed the water of the last application, to avoid the excess of humidity. While it is in flower, it is convenient to water a couple of times a week without letting it dry out. When the flower has been lost you can reduce the watering to once a week.
During watering, care should be taken that the water drops do not reach the colorful bracts surrounding the small yellow flowers, to prevent the appearance of unsightly spots or loss of pigmentation.
When growing indoors, it is recommended not to water the soil directly, but to place the pot on a plate with water for about 15 minutes, repeating the task twice a week, but taking care that between watering the substrate is partially dry.
How to Care for Poinsettias: Reproduction
Its reproduction is by pollination, and the most common is by cutting, you should cut a branch of 6” – 8” (15-20 cm) and spread with rooting hormones at the tip, placed directly in the substrate.
It should be placed in a greenhouse or a place without air currents, rather closed with filtered light, a window with transparent curtains is ideal for light.
The Keys to Making the Bracts Bloom Again and Take on Color
Several things must be taken into account for the plant to achieve good flowering and its striking red leaves.
This is a plant that needs to go into dormancy after its flowering season, as is the case with many others. Place the plant in a cool place away from heat sources. In this way, the poinsettia will enter those months of “rest it needs”.
When the leaves have fallen and it loses its bracts, cut the branches leaving stems of between 2” – 4” (5-10 cm), with disinfected and very sharp pruning shears, in diagonal cuts. The cut stems can be used as pointed cuttings, to multiply the plant.
In spring, with the arrival of heat, it is necessary to transplant it. Use universal substrate mixed with earthworm humus and sand, making sure that the mixture will offer very good drainage and a high contribution of nutrients.
For it to bloom again, 12 hours of absolute darkness are required. For this, you must cover during the nights with black plastic and uncover in the morning. Also, avoid bringing it close to sources of heat.
If you follow all these steps, it is very probable that when the holidays come, your plant will show some bracts of a very bright red, and you can use it to decorate or as a centerpiece. If it still resists, you can use special fertilizers for the plant, which favor the coloration.
Poinsettias Created for the Fall
There are other varieties created for special moments like fall and Thanksgiving day.
This is our guide on How to Care for Poinsettias