The Q&A Archives: Poinsettia Care

Question: I got a poinsettia for Christmas and I was wondering about how often would you recommend watering it? I'm a beginning gardener. Thank you.

Answer: Possibly the most traditional of holiday plants, poinsettias require special handling to make them bloom year after year. While blooming, keep well watered and in bright light with temperatures between 65-75 degrees. In the spring put the plant outdoors in an area that receives morning sun. Prune back the branches to about 6 inches and continue to pinch during the growing season to keep the plant bushy. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a dilute houseplant fertilizer.

About mid-September bring the poinsettia indoors and condition it to bloom by providing total darkness for 16 hours each day so the plant can set color in the flower bracts. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set the plant in a bright room for 8 hours and then either put a box over it or put it in a closet for 16 hours. In early December, stop the conditioning process and leave the plant in a bright location.

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