The Q&A Archives: Poinsettia Losing Leaves

Question: My poinsettia was brought to house from office during the Christmas holiday. Now all leaves are falling off. How do I care for plant so that it will be nice for next year?

Answer: To keep poinsettias from one year to the next is a bit of a challenge. But, it CAN be done. Here's the procedure, starting from shortly after the holidays.

Your plant is probably suffering shock from the change in conditions from perfect (in the greenhouse) to the office to home, where conditions are usually less than perfect. This is fairly typical.

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. Do not fertilize it.

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
into the garden in a slightly shaded area, sinking the pot into the soil to help keep it from drying
out. Fertilize regularly with a water soluble fertilizer for foliage plants, according to the label instructions. As soon as the temperatures begin to cool down in the very early fall bring it back indoors.

Now, life gets a bit complicated. Put it into 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. If you have a room that is not lived in at all, it can stay there. But if you put
lights on at any time in that won't work! If that's the case, it must be moved from
darkness (such as a dark closet ot covered with a cardboard box at night) into light every day...faithfully.

When the bracts have colored again...bring them out and start bragging!

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