How to Grow, Care and Forcing Poinsettias
Originally from Mexico and Central America, Poinsettias are by far the most
popular of flower plants during Christmas. As a matter of fact, they are
the largest flowering plant crop in the U.S. with sales of over 63 million
pots! Native to the warmer southwestern U.S. climates and Mexico, Poinsettias
are susceptible to cold and frost. So, when you bring them home in cold weather,
make sure to bring them right home. Don't leave them in your car and go back
to your Christmas shopping.
Poinsettias are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador to
Mexico who brought the plant back to his plantation in the U.S. He grew the
plants in his Greenville, S.C plantation and gave them out as gifts to friends.
Did you Know?
Day is December 12th. It was declared in honor of the death of Joel Roberts
Poinsett on December 12, 1851.
Poinsettias are not poisonous as many believe. But eating them could give
you a stomach ache.
Selecting Healthy Plants:
Look for lots of dark green leaves and bright colored flowers, called Bracts.
If either the leaves or the flowers are dry or brown around the edges, select
another plant. Look for flowers that are completely open. Poinsettias are
slow to open, but once they bloom, the flowers will remain full and attractive
for several weeks.
If the weather is cold, make sure to wrap up the plant well for the trip
from the store to the car. Even short exposure to cold and wind can damage
your new Poinsettia plant before it is even home.
Poinsettia are propagated by seeds. However, Poinsettia seeds are difficult
to find. Plants sold on the market are forced to bloom for sale during
the Christmas season.
Caring for Poinsettia Plants:
Poinsettias are easy to keep. They will retain their blooms long after you
have put away the Christmas decorations. If you are lucky, they will last
until Valentines Day. After bringing them home, keep them in a sunny room.
Ideal temperature range is 60 - 70 degrees. They do not like drafts. And,
they do not like being placed near high heat like a furnace vent or fireplace.
Water thoroughly, then let the soil dry between watering. Poinsettias are
forgiving. If they begin to dry out, water them and they bounce right back.
If the leaves turn lighter green, give more sunshine and......they bounce
For growing poinsettia plants during the summer, you can move your
plant outdoors to a sunny location. Plant it directly into your garden or
into a container. Give it a good trimming, into a nice rounded shape. Apply
general purpose fertilizer every two to three weeks.
Bring the plant indoors before the first frost. Poinsettias can not withstand
frost. Check carefully to be sure you did not bring in any "critters" in
with your plant.
Did you know? Poinsettias can grow up to 10 feet. But, to grow them
this big you will need a few years in a tropical climate that does not experience
The poinsettia plant above was forced at home, following the instructions
below. Because we did not have a grow light on it during the daylight hours,
the leaves were not as full and lush as a store-bought plant. But, as you
can see, it certainly came out beautifully!
Forcing Poinsettias to bloom is not the easiest task. But, when you succeed,
it is rewarding. if you have kept them around and healthy all year, you've
just gotta give it a try.
The concept is simple enough. Any time from late September to October first,
you need to put the plant in total darkness for 12-14 hours a day. Here is
where it's tricky. Any small light can upset the process. During the
day, it should get six hours or more of sunlight. Continue this process daily
until early November, then bring it out into the room. Now with a little
luck (some will say a lot of luck) and your personal green thumb, it will
be in full bloom during the Christmas holiday.
Tip: A black plastic bag works well. Place the plant in the bag and
use a twist tie. Each morning, remove the twist tie and carefully lower the
bag to the floor.
Holiday Side of Poinsettias