Caring for poinsettia after Christmas offers the opportunity to add this holiday plant to your houseplant collection. You’ll need a sunny windowsill and patience to get a poinsettia to “bloom” again.
Caring for Poinsettia After Christmas
This Christmas, my friend gave me a lovely poinsettia plant as a gift. I usually don’t keep live poinsettia in the house; they are toxic to dogs and cats, but my cats tend to leave the plants alone, thank goodness, and the dog definitely does, so I felt it was okay to keep this plant in the house.
All About Poinsettia
Live poinsettia plants aren’t just holiday decorations. They’re live plants, folks, and actually in the wild, the equivalent of our daylilies; ditch weeds. They hail from Mexico and are named after Joel Poinsett, the former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico who brought the iconic plant back to the United States in 1825. The botanical name for poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrina, and it’s come a long, long way from the roadsides and ditches in Mexico to its festive, holiday symbolism today.
The “flowers” on the poinsettia are actually leaves; the flowers are the tiny yellow things in the middle. Poinsettia need light, so your first task is to make sure your plant is receiving enough light. They thrive on southern exposures but do well in eastern or western windows, too.
Be sure to water your poinsettia. If the leaves begin to wilt, it’s too thirty. The soil should be kept evenly moist. Just stick your finger into the soil; if it feels dry, it’s dry. Water the plant.
Where Should You Put Your Poinsettia House Plant?
Keep your poinsettia just as you would any other house plant, but with two exceptions.
- Poinsettias hate cold drafts. You know all those displays you see in the lobbies of hotels, banks and shopping malls at this time of year? Those big, towering pyramids of poinsettia right near the front doors? The reason they keep them there, where cold drafts blow in on them every minute or so, if because those poor plants are treated like disposable decorations. After Christmas, if any are left alive, most big companies have a professional indoor horticulture firm take them away to a nice, warm, snug greenhouse where they can either be nurtured back to health or composted.
- Warm temperatures are a must. The second exception is that the temperature can’t drop below 60-65 F degrees. For most people that’s fine – they keep their home temperature anywhere from 65-70 degrees. Okay, that may be what your thermostat is set for, but what is the actual temperature near the plant? For example, my home is usually around 68 F during the day. I turn the thermostat down to around 65 F at night. But the temperature in the plant room is actually around 62 degrees F, especially near the windowsills. You can measure this easily with a garden thermometer or just assume that places near the windows may vary a few degrees warmer (a hot, sunny southern window) or colder (at night, during the winter, etc.)
Getting a Poinsettia to Flower Again
In order to get your poinsettia in shape again for the holidays, you have to care for it year-round, and perform different tasks in each month of the year until October. Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning they “bloom” when the nights get longer. For those here in Virginia and surrounding gardening zones, that means that after October, you’ll need to ensure complete darkness for your poinsettia from 5 pm to 8 am the following morning in order to coax it into the holiday spirit by Christmas.
Monthly instructions are beyond the scope of today’s article, but you can read them here, on the Ohio Cooperative Extension website article on Poinsettia Care in the Home.
I love poinsettia and look forward to seeing them in the stores every Christmas. And, with luck, seeing them turn red again in my home!