The Q&A Archives: Poinsetta's

Question: I kept my poinsetta's from Christmas last year and planted them in my garden. I have now moved them inside, they look very green and healthy, do I have to do anything with them to get them to flower?

Answer: Yes, there's a process you can follow to encourage your poinsettia's to bloom. Flowering is "photoperiodically" induced in the poinsettia. This means that flowers begin to form when the days are a certain length, or, more accurately, when the nights are long enough. Without long nights, this plant will continue to produce leaves and will grow but will never flower. Flower initiation begins in late September and early October. Dark periods longer than 12 hours are necessary for flower set. Flowers mature in from 60 to 85 days depending on varieties, temperature and light intensity. Because flower initiation depends upon the length of the dark period, your poinsettia must be kept completely dark from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. The time to give this treatment is from the end of September or beginning of October until December 15. Once you can see the flowers developing in the growing plants, i. e., when the floral bracts start to show definite color, it is not as important to continue giving the dark period, though it is advisable to continue until the bracts are almost fully expanded. Temperatures should be no less than 55?F at night, but not more than 70?F during the day. So the routine you need to follow is to provide your poinsettia's as much sunlight as possible during the day, and remember to put it in a dark closet in the late afternoon. Best wishes with your poinsettia.

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