The Q&A Archives: Poinsettas

Question: I received some beautiful poinsettas and I have them in my back room with the east sun right now. They are losing their leaves but the blooms are still great. Can I plant them outside this spring? And do I need to cut them back?

Answer: Keeping poinsettias from one year to the next is a bit of a challenge. Here's the procedure, starting from shortly after the holidays:

Take the poinsettia with the leafless stems and
"drying out soil" and prune the stems back to stubs about 4 inches high. Put the pot in a cool, shady area of the house and keep the soil ALMOST dry.

When spring arrives and it's warm enough to put your houseplants outside it's time to deal with this plant again. Repot it into a pot slightly larger than the one in which it had been planted. Put it in the garden in a slightly shaded area, sinking the pot into the soil to help keep it from drying out. As soon as the temperatures begin to cool down in the very early fall bring it back indoors.

Once indoors, put the plant in a very sunny location until sometime in September or early October, when you will place it in TOTAL darkness for 13-14 hours every night. This is
REALLY important. When the bracts have colored again, bring your plants out into bright light.

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