Beautiful poinsettia plants can be found everywhere during the holidays, bringing color and cheer to the long winter days. Most people throw the plants out after they fade, but with the proper care these beauties will re-bloom for next year’s holiday season. This year challenge yourself to keep your holiday poinsettia for a second season of colorful, showy blooms.
Poinsettias are a native of Mexico, making them no match for Iowa winters. They require plenty of water, so be sure to always water when the soil is dry to the touch, even when it is not flowering. Follow these tips to see your poinsettia again next season.
• In late March, cut your poinsettia plant back to about 8”. Fertilize with an organic all-purpose houseplant food. Earl May carries organic all-purpose fertilizer spikes that feed for 8 weeks.
• When the night temperature is safely above 55 degrees and all danger of freezing has passed (around May 2 in Des Moines), put the plant outdoors in indirect sun. Try to keep it out of the wind if possible.
• Fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.
• In early June, transplant into a pot that is 4” larger than the current pot, using an organic potting soil. Earl May, Wal-Mart and Lowes all carry good organic potting mixes.
• In early July, prune your poinsettia by trimming one quarter of the new growth. This will encourage branching. Leave at least 2 or 3 large leaves on each stem.
• Beginning October 1, move your plant to a location where it will receive 14 continuous hours of darkness each day. Keep in mind that lamps and streetlights count against you during this time. Your poinsettia must have complete darkness! If you do not have a location that will work, place a box over the plant.
• October through December, your plant must get 6-8 hours of bright sunlight each day, and night temperatures cannot fall below 60 degrees.
• Continue fertilizing until the bright color starts to show. Then stop fertilizing and display your beautiful poinsettia in its holiday spot!
Poinsettias bloom in November or December, depending on the specific cultivar. Timing the blooms for the holidays is very difficult, but just enjoy your blooms whenever they arrive.