Care of Poinsettias

Poinsettia

Question ...

How do I look after my poinsettia after Christmas?

In previous years all the leaves drop off and the plant dies, despite my best efforts. Also, is it possible to get it to flower for next Christmas?

Answer ...

Poinsettia is a native of Mexico, so it is likely that because of our reduced light levels in this country your plant will get some yellowing and leaf fall. To keep the plant in good condition do not let temperatures fall below 13°C (55°F). Place in a well lit location. Water thoroughly but wait until the compost is quite dry before watering again. Overwatering is the most common cause of failure in poinsettia.

To make the plant bloom again for next Christmas, in early spring, cut back the stems to 10cm (4in). Keep the compost almost dry, place in a cool shady position. In early May, water and re-pot the plant, shoots will then soon appear. Remove some of the new shoots to leave 4-5 stems (use the prunings as cuttings). When pruning this plant, wear gloves and long sleeves as the sap can cause irritation.

As the plant requires careful light control to make the plant bloom again, in September cover the plant with a black polythene bag from early evening until the next morning so the plant is in total darkness for 14 hours. Continue daily for eight weeks, then treat as normal and hopefully the plant should flower for next Christmas time.

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