As we decorate our homes for the holidays, we often use Poinsettia plants as part of our holiday décor. Once only available in red, today poinsettias are available in shades of red, pink, white, fuchsia, or with variegated bracts and leaves. Today I spotted purple and blue at a local nursery; as well as some with glitter sprinkled on their leaves. Being a bit of a purist, I prefer the beautiful red ones. The showy colored parts of the poinsettia that most of us think of as flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves) that surround the small flowers in the middle. And contrary to belief, poinsettias are not poisonous. I know – a long believed old wives’ tale. Who knew? I still keep mine away from kids and pets.
Care: To make the plants look good throughout the holiday season, place them in a sunny location where their leaves will not touch cold window panes. The poinsettia likes 60-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 degrees at night. Too much heat (i.e. next to that hot fireplace) will shorten the life of the colorful bracts. Water when soil is dry to the touch and don’t let the plant stand in water inside those foil wraps the florist puts around them.
It is tricky to get a poinsettia plant to rebloom at the correct time for next holiday season. If you want to make the effort, move your plant outdoors in the spring after all danger of frost is over (toward the end of May). Cut the plant back a bit, place it in a sunny location that gets some shade in the afternoon and feed regularly. The poinsettia needs shorter days to rebloom. After bringing it back indoors, starting October 1st keep the plant in total darkness between 5 pm and 8 am. Any light during those hours may prevent or delay bloom time. With any luck, early to mid-December you should begin to see color on the bracts again. My experience – reblooming poinsettias are never as showy as the original plant. Who has the kind of schedule where you are available everyday to move the plant in and out of darkness at a specified time? There is a reason poinsettias are so beautiful and plentiful for holiday purchase, every where from Walmarts to your favorite florist.