When you think of holiday plants, poinsettias probably come to mind. This classic plant is well-known for its large flowers in hues of red, pink, yellow, and white.
However, did you know that those “flowers” are not actually flowers at all but are bracts?
Bracts are modified structures similar to leaves, and you can encourage those bracts to re-bloom year after year with the following tips.
Give Poinsettias Proper Care
Poinsettias are the perfect holiday plant because they “bloom” during mid winter, and thrive in the short days and long nights of winter. These houseplants can even rebloom year after year if they receive the proper care.
Give your poinsettias water anytime the top two inches of soil feels dry. Overwatering will increase the chance of rot and pest problems, while also stunting the plant’s growth. Too little water will also cause serious problems that could lead to the demise of the poinsettias. That is why it is important to regularly check the soil moisture and then add water as needed.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and cannot withstand temperatures below 50-degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal indoor temperature for poinsettias is between 65 and 70-degrees Fahrenheit. If the plant is exposed to temps below 50-degrees it can suffer damage to the stems, leaves, and bracts. It can also prevent the poinsettias from reblooming. Furthermore, freezing temperatures will kill poinsettias, so take care not to leave your plant outdoors or in a cold room during the winter months.
Poinsettias are not heavy feeders, but will benefit from an all-purpose fertilizer made for houseplants. During its active growing season, when it is growing new shoots, apply the fertilizer every 2 weeks. You can stop feeding the plant during its dormant period.
Prune And Pinch Poinsettias
Once those iconic blooms have fallen off, use a clean pair of pruning shears to snip the stem to 5 to 6 inches tall. Make sure to leave 1 to 3 leaves on each of the stems. This helps encourage growth. In addition, pinch about one inch off each stem’s tip in the months of July through August. This will promote the plant to start side branching, while preventing it from becoming leggy.
Re-pot Poinsettias In The Summer
Repotting the poinsettia in June makes a world of difference for your plant. Before repotting, prune the poinsettia back so that it is only about 6 inches tall. Then repot it in a container that is a little larger than the previous one. Use only well-draining potting soil that is light and airy. Water the plant deeply after repotting.
Poinsettias Need Darkness
One of the reasons why they make such good holiday plants is their ability to thrive in the short daylight hours of winter. In fact, they need 14 hours of complete darkness in order to trigger new “blooms.” With that said, however, they will still need about 9 hours of indirect light as well. Select a location that is warm and dark, where you can control the amount of darkness or light the plant gets.