Ask a Question forum: how to prune a poinsettia bush into a tree

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Name: annectoo
mid-Indiana (Zone 6a)
semi-retired, not more time!
Dec 24, 2015 12:42 PM CST
I want to prune one of my poinsettia plants (have several to choose from) into a tree. Instructions and recommendations are needed. Much thanks!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Dec 24, 2015 6:40 PM CST
I would choose the tallest of your plants to start with. Mark one single stem that is the biggest, or healthiest or the one with the most leaves, using maybe a piece of tape or some sort of tag. Be aware that sometimes there are 2 or 3 plants in a pot to make them look full, so if this is the case, you need to separate them if you can.

Cut off one of the other stems near the ground. Keep the plant growing well, give it as much direct sun and warmth as you can (they are native to Mexico, so like it sunny, hot and dry) and about every month or two, cut off another stem until the big one you marked is the only one left.

Once the weather is warm in spring, put it outside to grow for the summer. At that time it's probably a good idea to pot it up, a heavy clay pot would be good. Also stake the single stem so it won't whip around until it gets strong enough to withstand wind and weather. They can take lots of heat and sun, and do fine with abundant water as long as the pot drains well. They grow well here in Florida, and we get heavy rain on a daily basis, sometimes for weeks on end.

Bring it indoors when the nights start to drop below 50deg. or so.

Please post some pictures so we can see how you're doing with this? We love pictures!

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Dec 24, 2015 8:29 PM (+)]
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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
Dec 25, 2015 10:43 PM CST
You have two challenges in addition to the pruning per se. One is the transition from inside to out and vice versa. The other is care indoors. Pointsettias to do well indoors like as much light as they can get and they love water as long as the potting media is well draining and not kept dripping wet.

I used to to care for many as 400 + Points at a time and have grown a couple indoors for as long as 5 years.

The easiest and best method to thoroughly water them is to hold them over a sink or a large bucket and water til the water flows freely thru them. When it stops flowing place them back in their regular location. Water regularly but allow the media to not be perpetually soaked. Never allow them to have wet feet or sit in standing water.

One question. Did you buy a very large plant and/or variety to begin with? Some are much better candidates than others. One huge variety that I use to purchase a few of each year were close to trees to start with. They came 5 plants per pot and were ~ 5 - 6 + feet tall. Obviously they would be a much easier candidate than a typical 2 - 3 foot plant(s) in a 6 or 8 inch or larger pot.

Were I you, if starting with a pot of multiple plants, I would separate them and have 2 or 3 or more candidates rather than focusing on just one by cutting all the other stems. This would also help in case one bites the dust. That will be easy to do in your zone.

Good luck.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: annectoo
mid-Indiana (Zone 6a)
semi-retired, not more time!
Dec 26, 2015 8:14 AM CST
Thank you Elaine and David for sharing such excellent information and I truly appreciate it. I have a 3 y/o plant and will be using one of it's stems to start this experiment.
Thank You! Hurray!

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