The Q&A Archives: Poinsettias

Question: Need instructions for care of a poinsettia.

Answer: Your poinsettia will do best in bright but indirect light at a room temperature of about 70 degrees. Water when the soil begins to dry, but before the plant wilts. Protect it from drafts, both hot and cold. Most people discard these after the holidays. If you plan to keep it until next year, after the holidays place it in a sunny window and fertilize once a month with a water soluble fertilizer for houseplants per the label directions. In the spring, trim it back short to about six inches and repot into a slightly larger container using a soil-less mix formulated for container plants. Pinch out the growing tips several times to help it come back bushy and dense. When temperatures are over 55 degrees, place it outdoors in a spot with gentle morning sun or bright dappled light all day. Pinch once or twice to keep it growing dense. In the fall, bring it indoors in mid September, and begin providing it with longer nights. You can do this by covering it or by placing it in a closet at night or by keeping it in a room that receives only natural light. It must have uninterrupted darkness every night for 14 hours or so. Water sparingly while you are giving it the dark nights, and procide bright light during the day. This will cause it to turn color. When it is fully colored, you can stop the dark treatment and put it on display again. Good luck with your poinsettia!

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