Poinsettia – Care & How to Force Blooms


poinsettiaI love a Poinsettia, it’s a very quick and easy way to decorate a room for the holidays.

Overall care is fairly easy, water once a week – more often if the room is dry, clean off dry leaves and occasionally give it a little boost of fertilizer.

Note that this plant tends to upset more easily than regular house plants, so minimal moving around is best. You can tell if it’s upset – it will shake off a few good leaves.

You can often find poinsettias for sale around the holidays and they are a popular holiday flowering plant, but it’s what to do with one after the festive season, that is a problem for many. Some consider it then obsolete and just discard.

What a shame and a waste. If you love houseplants, you can save it and enjoy the green foliage for several months and come early fall, force it go into bloom mode again, in time for the holidays.

In the meantime, a green poinsettia can go into the garden bed or in a container out on the patio, depending of course on your climate. I’m in a cooler zone and it’s not hardy enough to winter outdoors here, so I bring it back it in at that time, give it some fresh soil and enjoy it again indoors.

When outdoors in the summer, it does prefer some shade (part day) and is better with a more gentle morning sun and then shade. It sometimes needs more frequent watering, especially if you see leaves starting to fall off.DSC00212

How to Force a Poinsettia to Bloom for the Holidays:

This has been a trial and error, but this year, I was successful. It may be too late for you to force blooms for this holiday season, but keep your festive plant and plan on training it next fall, to enjoy this plant’s bright red blooms once again.Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the number of days accordingly, but this has worked for me this year.

At the very beginning of October, I cleaned off dry leaves, watered the poinsettia and then placed it in the dark guest room, with the blind down and door closed. I left it there for three days. The room was also cool (unheated).

On the fourth day, I brought it back out into the living room in front of a sunny window. I replanted it into a larger pot and provided fresh soil. Within a couple of weeks, I could see a tinge of red on the new leaves starting to come out. Forcing did work to start the blooming process.

At the time of writing, it’s the third week of November and there are several mid-size blooms, which I expect will be larger and beautiful just in time for the holiday week. I can also see the stamen starting to grow too. The first image shows progress at about 3 weeks after forcing; the second image was taken mid November.

There are many tips on gardening sites for how to force a a poinsettia to bloom and I have unsuccessfully tried several, such as just drawing drapes early in front of the plant, for several days. None have worked. Last year, I forced early November and enjoyed blooms late January. The beginning of October is obviously better.

Supposedly, it’s the shorter days of sunlight that naturally influences this plant to bloom. My plants have not naturally been stirred, but my attempt to ‘force’ blooms is now working.

So don’t throw out your poinsettia after the holidays, save money and keep it as a houseplant through the summer and force it next fall to bloom again. Or, give it to a friend who loves houseplants.

Check Amazon for Holiday Decorations

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