(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 21, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
I used to read a magazine called ”Practical Ideas for the House, Apartament and Garden” which is similar to the Dave's Garden website in that the readers write all the articles and send photos too. I’ve written many articles for this magazine about my plants and house, and I loved the idea of sharing my experiences!
An article about Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) was written by a lady who had been growing them for years and she had a few for selling. I called and asked if she still had one for me too…no, she didn’t have any more for sale…ugh! That could have been hard on anyone, but not on me! If I want something, I do everything I can until I get it, even if it isn’t right away!
They say you have to be careful what you wish for, because it may come true…and so it did for me! Later that day, a neighbor of mine came over and I was telling her about my wish and she said she could give me one she had at home. My eyes were sparkling with joy…yipeeee!
She cautioned me, “Only it has some white bugs on it, I don’t know what it is, maybe you can take care of it,” Undaunted, I told her to bring it over and I would see what I could do with it.
She brought me a branch and I began searching for all the articles about poinsettia I could find in the magazine. First, I washed each leaf and the stem with water and soap, to get rid of the white bugs. Poor leaves looked faded, but this didn’t discourage me!
I found an article about how to divide poinsettia and obtain more plants from cuttings. I did the same with my branch: cut it in two, put each cutting in warm water, to stop the white liquid which was pouring from the cut and planted it in a pot. I put the pot in a sunny window and watered it only in the plate. The leaves faded, got yellow and fell within a week, but the stems was still green, so this told me I was on the right way.
One of the stems didn’t survive, but the other one grew so well I could trim it again in April and obtain two more cuttings! In August I trimmed the plants again and had four more cuttings; seven poinsettias all in all ! I fertilized them every two weeks until Christmas.
I began searching for more info about poinsettias on the internet and found Dave’s Garden, which changed my life and brought me so many wonderful and dear friends!I went to the PlantFiles section, clicked on Search Plants and typed ”poinsettia" and everything I wanted was there! And so many pictures and threads, on which I could find information, from the DG members!
The mistakes I made with my poinsettias
I found out about having to keep poinsettia under a bag or a black cloth, beginning at the end of September, so they can have 12-14 hours of darkness, which accelerates blooming. I covered them with black plastic bags, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., from late September to mid-December. This was a big chore, because I had to be very careful not to touch the bracts and the little flowers, which were just beginnin to grow. Meanwhile, my mom and a friend, to whom I gave poinsettias, didn’t go through all this trouble… they just let them stay in a sunny window and watered it from time to time.
Now, after a few years, I realize I didn’t have to cover them at all, because we have enough dark during winter, so the bracts can grow and color.
I made another mistake with my poinsettias by bringing them inside from the balcony, where was too cold, although they had full sun almost all day. In my living room, they were in complete shadow during winter, but I thought it would be warmer for them but that was so wrong ! The bracts appeared, but they weren’t as colorful as they should have been and some of them fell down. Still, I was so proud of my poinsettias!
I kept on fertilizing them during the holidays, thinking they would grow better if fertilized.
After the holidays, I took all of them on the balcony and, surprise… they started to bloom again and the bracts were so red, as shown in the picture. This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t fertilize them continuously! They need a rest time after blooming.
What to do to your poinsettias after the holidays
- Keep the plant in the window and water it as usual.
- Don’t fertilize anymore until March.
- Trim back the branches which have bracts; this way the plant will regenerate.
- At the end of spring, replant poinsettia in a bigger pot and put it in a sunny window.
- When danger of freeze is gone, bring it outside, first in a shaded spot to acclimatize.
- Rotate the plant periodically, so it can grow beautiful all around.
- Pinch it to encourage bushy growth every 2 weeks or monthly, until mid August.
- Fertilize every week, from March to December, until the bracts appear.
- If the room is too cold, the plant will bloom later; if too warm, the bracts will fall down quickly.
What to do to a poinsettia you get for Christmas
- Put it in a sunny window.
- Be sure no leaf touches the cold window.
- Water it when the soil gets dry on top.
Note: high temps accelerate the dropping of the bracts!
I hope my advice will be of help to our DG friends, who will want to grow a poinsettia after the winter holidays.