Want to keep your poinsettia plants alive and well to bloom again next Christmas? It’s actually easier than you think!
The holiday season is over, and that means the end of the line for poinsettia blooms. Unfortunately, many think of the poinsettia as an annual, and toss it to the curb at the end of the holiday season.
But this gorgeous plant is actually a perennial. And with just a bit of basic care, it can be overwintered to bloom again year after year.
Here is a look at what to do with your poinsettia plants after they finish blooming, and how to bring them back stronger than ever and in full bloom next Thanksgiving and Christmas season!
How To Keep Poinsettia Plants Alive To Bloom Again Next Year
With proper watering and room temperature, most poinsettia plants will hold their blooms well into late January. Some can even make it to February. Poinsettia plants extend their bloom cycle best in temperatures that range from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
As with most house plants, too much water is more detrimental than too little. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. This keeps roots from becoming water-logged, which is often the number one reason poinsettia plants do not stay alive.
But eventually, no matter how good the care, all poinsettia plants begin to fade. This is because the blooms, or bracts as they are officially known, finally lose their power.
Bracts are the showy set of leaves that form on top of the dark green foliage of a poinsettia. Bracts first form on poinsettia plants in late fall, after going through a period of darkness.
Although not a true bloom, the bracts are what give the poinsettia plant its beautiful color throughout the holiday season. But when they begin to finally fade, it is time to prepare the plant for next year’s blooms.
Cutting Poinsettia Plants Back After Blooming
As the blooms fade and fall from the plant in large numbers, begin by cutting the foliage back. Using a sharp pair of scissors or pruners, trim the stems back three or four inches above the soil line.
Don’t let the alarm bells go off, understand that your plant will not look very healthy at this point. Perhaps more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree than a healthy poinsettia plant. But no worries, all is well.
Once cut back, place the plant in a well lit room near a window. Magically, within a few weeks, you will see new growth begin to appear.
Spring And Summer Poinsettia Care – How To Keep Your Poinsettia Plant Alive
As spring arrives, you can keep plants in a well lit room, or move them to the great outdoors. Many opt to place them outdoors on a patio or well lit porch. Some even opt to plant them directly into the soil for the summer months.
No matter where you keep it, the key is to give it as much sun as possible. The more the better. Poinsettia plants will tolerate some shade, but grow best in full sun conditions.
As they grow through the spring and summer months, prune the plants back again to 5 to 6″ to help keep them compact, bushy, and strong. Usually once in late April, and again around mid-August will work fine.
A little bit of all-purpose fertilizer at the time of each pruning helps the plant develop strong foliage and future bracts. After the last pruning and application of fertilizer in August, stop fertilizing the plant. Too much after this point will result in too much foliage growth, and not enough power for bracts to form.
Getting Poinsettia Plants To “Bloom” Again – Keeping Poinsettia Plants Alive
For the bracts to “bloom”, the poinsettia plant needs to go through a period of darkness. In fact, they need about 14 hours of darkness each day for a 6 week period.
In order to have in time for Thanksgiving, you should start this process around October 1st. You can start it a bit later if you want them in full bloom for Christmas.
To do this, place in a closet or completely dark area early each evening. Then, bring them back out in the morning to receive light from a window until early evening again.
During this process, water your plants as normal. In fact, through the entire process, plants should always have the same consistent watering process. If there is a single most common cause of failure in keeping poinsettia plants alive, it is too much or too little water.
Long Term Care
Poinsettia plants will usually outgrow their pot within a year or two. Re-potting at this point will keep them healthy, and allow their roots enough room for future growth.
Use a high quality potting soil and select a pot about 25% larger than your existing plant. It is best to re-pot in the early spring to allow plants enough time to establish good roots before the fall darkness period.
Here is to keeping your poinsettia plants alive and well year after year! For more great info on indoor plant care, check out our House Plant section on the blog.
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