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How To Keep Poinsettia Plants Beautiful – Before & After Christmas!

Looking to keep your poinsettia plants looking healthy and beautiful all through the Christmas season this year?

how to keep poinsettia beautiful
Not only can poinsettias brighten up the holiday season, they can be kept alive to grow and “bloom” again next year.

There is little doubt the poinsettias are the official flower of the Christmas holiday season. With colors ranging from deep red to crimson, white, pink and all types of variations, they are perfect for brightening up any holiday display.

But keeping them healthy and strong all through the season can be a challenge for many. As can keeping these gorgeous perennial plants alive through late winter, spring and summer to use again next year.

But not to worry, we have you covered with today’s article! Here is an in-depth look at how to keep your poinsettias blooming and booming through the holidays – and how to overwinter them after they finish blooming to use again next Christmas season!

Keeping Poinsettia Plants Beautiful In Season

First, let’s start with how to care for poinsettias during their “blooming” season. And that all begins with knowing a little about the plant, and it’s blooming cycle.

Poinsettia “blooms” are actually bracts, and not a flower at all. Although they look like a flowering blooms, bracts are instead a set of colorful leaves that form on top of the regular green foliage of the poinsettia.

variegated poinsettia plant
In addition to solid colors, poinsettia plants can be found in all types of interesting variegated foliage patters like this crimson and white variety.

And to keep the bracts in tip-top shape all throughout the full holiday season, there are 3 simple keys to success.

The 3 Keys To Keeping Poinsettias Healthy In Season

The first, and the biggest of all is proper watering. When poinsettia plants fail early in the season, it can most often be attributed to too much, or too little watering.

Over-watering causes the most issues for poinsettia plants. Not only can overwatering lead to the yellowing of leaves, it can also rot away the root structure, killing the plant in the process.

Allow your plants to dry out completely between waterings. And when you do water, water so the soil is moist and damp, but not saturated.

watering perrenials
Both over-watering and under-watering can cause serious issues for poinsettia plants.

But with that said, be sure to not allow the soil to stay too dry for too long. As with over-watering, under-watering will cause a plant to lose it bracts and color prematurely as well.

Heat & Light – Keeping Poinsettias Beautiful

The second factor that can affect the longevity of blooms is the amount of heat in the room. Poinsettias will bloom longest when kept between 70 and 75 degrees.

This tropical plant loves heat and humidity – but not too much! Overly warm rooms will shorten the bloom time of poinsettia plants, as will sitting them too close to a heat source such as a heat duct, fireplace or heater.

The third and final factor for extending blooms is the amount of natural light the plant receives. Poinsettia plants need light to bloom, but again, not too much.

Don’t place poinsettia plants too close to a heat source such as a working fireplace. The intense heat will cause the bracts to lose their color prematurely.

Locate plants so that they receive a fair amount of indirect light, but not direct sunlight through a window. Locating plants in a sunny windowsill will speed up their bloom time greatly. It can also damage the foliage as the sun’s rays filter through the glass.

Poinsettia Care After The Holiday Season

As mid-January and February roll around, even the best-kept poinsettia plants will begin to fade. It is all part of the perennial’s natural cycle.

But with just a bit of care, they can easily be kept from year to year. One thing is for sure, keeping plants alive is a much better option than having to repurchase them every single year!

Post Holiday Care – Keeping Poinsettia Plants Alive

Once the blooms have faded, begin by cutting the foliage and stems back to around 4″ above the soil surface. Don’t be alarmed, the plant may look quite pathetic at this point, but it will come back!

new leaf growth
After cutting back, new growth and leaves will begin to form in late winter. As spring arrives, plants can then be moved outdoors to continue their growth.

Next, place the plant in a sunny windowsill, continuing to water as needed. Usually, within 2 to 3 weeks, you will begin to see new growth beginning to emerge.

As spring and warmer temperatures arrive, you can take the plants outside. The more sun the better. In fact, you can even plant them directly into the soil if desired.

Prune back the plants in early summer, and again in mid-summer to keep the plant full and bushier. Fertilize at each of these points with a balanced, all-purpose organic fertilizer to provide strength to the plant.

Fall Care

As fall arrives, it is time to start preparing your poinsettia for holiday blooming! To get plants to bloom around the holiday season, they need to go through a 6 to 8 week period of darkness to force the blooms.

fall poinsettia care
As crazy at it sounds, it is darkness that will bring a poinsettia into full color. Poinsettia plants need to be kept in the dark for 6 to 8 weeks in the fall to force the bracts into action.

At the end of September, place plants in a dark, cool area (65 degree-ish) for 14 to 16 hours a day. A dark closet with easy access works best for this. Continue to water as needed through the process.

Bring the plant out into indirect light for only about 8 hours each day, and then return to darkness. As soon as you see the blooms begin to change color, it is time to bring it out full time to enjoy.

Here is to keeping your poinsettia plants beautiful through the holiday season, and keeping them around year after year to enjoy! And although poinsettia plants have a bit of rap for being dangerous to pets and children – see our article on the myths of the poinsettia plant : Are Poinsettias Really Dangerous?

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary

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