The Q&A Archives: When To Water Poinsettias

Question: When to water poinsettias?

Answer: I've found that poinsettias will last about three weeks indoors, even in the darkest corners where no other plant life will survive. This makes them perfect for decorating a room during the holidays. If you place yours in a dark area, water only when the soil is very dry and don't fertilize.

After the holidays, poinsettias should be returned to fairly bright light to remain healthy. South, east or west windows are best. The bracts may open completely and then fall off, but this is normal. If they last until March, your poinsettia is very happy where you put it. Water regularly -- as often as necessary to keep the soil from drying out.

Cut the plant back in early April, leaving four to six nodes or segments on each stem. Begin fertilizing with a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer when new growth begins. As the weather warms in late spring, take your poinsettia outdoors to spend the summer in a sunny spot. Trim new growth back in July and again in mid-August to encourage a bushy appearance.

When weather cools in the fall, bring your poinsettia back indoors and place it in a sunny windowsill. It takes about 10 weeks of special treatment to coax poinsettias into bloom. Beginning in late-September, provide 14 hours of total darkness and 10 hours of bright light every 24 hours. I put mine in a closet every evening at 6 and take it out every morning at 8, placing it in a west-facing window. This process is repeated until the first week of December. If all goes well, it should be radiant with color by Christmas!

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