Growing Poinsettias Outdoors - Knowledgebase Question

Orangevale, CA
Question by dr1gg
December 22, 1999
I recently bought my mother-in-law a big beautful Poinsettia plant this year for Christmas.
She would like to plant it outside in the ground, but doesn't kown where it should go.
Someone she had know years ago had one in her yard and it would come back every year and it was huge.
Where she lives is hot in the summer time and does get some snow in the winter. She also has pine and fruit trees in her yard.
Is it possible to plant it outside in the soil,not in a pot and for it to come back every year.

Answer from NGA
December 22, 1999


In the most mild of Southern California climates, it is possible to grow poinsettias in the ground. But, if the temperatures dip below 40F, the plants will be damaged. If snow, or freezing temperatures are normal in your garden, don't plant it outdoors, but take it outdoors in the summer. Here's one way to keep poinsettias from one year to the next, starting from shortly after the holidays.

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.

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. 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) into light every day...faithfully.

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

By the way, Poinsettias do have flowers, but they are those tiny, little yellow things in the
middle of the colored bracts. When you buy poinsettias always look for ones that have those little
flowers as tightly closed as possible. That's one way to keep them looking beautiful longer.

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