Ask an Expert: How Can I Keep My Poinsettia Alive Beyond the Holidays

    Ask an Expert: How Can I Keep My Poinsettia Alive Beyond the Holidays

    Poinsettia CareThe holidays are over, and you have a tired-looking poinsettia you are not sure what to do with. Be aware that your poinsettia can actually brighten your home for months to come with proper care and attention.

    Poinsettias are native Mexican plants. They thrive during the holiday season because they are short-day plants that require long nights to launch their color change. The colorful bracts of these plants are leaves, not flowers, with the most common bract color being red. The flower buds are the red or green buttons in the center of the bracts that open to a small, yellow flower. Healthy poinsettias have dark green leaves below the bracts and foliage all the way to the base. Consider these tips to keep your poinsettia looking bright.

    • Poinsettias need a minimum of six hours of indirect sunlight each day.

    • Protect the plants from freezing temperatures, especially when transporting them. Place them in a light-filled room away from drafts. They do best in rooms between 55 and 65 F at night and 65 to 70 F during the day. Keep poinsettias away from cooler locations and avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50 F.

    • Water poinsettias when the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches down. The plants are very sensitive to overwatering and will develop root rot quickly if kept too wet. Water thoroughly, and let excess water drain out of the container bottom.

    • Apply an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer once a week to keep plants healthy during the holidays. Once the colorful bracts drop off, reduce watering and fertilization to give the plants a rest period. Trim the poinsettia back so that just a few leaves are left.

    • With proper care, poinsettia bracts can be maintained until about March or April. Once they begin to fall, cut the plant back, leaving about six buds. For the first couple of weeks, the plant will resemble a stick. Water and fertilize as before, and by May it will begin to leaf out again.

    • For an interesting, unusual outdoor plant, poinsettias can be taken outside in the spring when the danger of a freeze is past. Place the plant in a shady location, and it can be enjoyed throughout the summer.

    • To keep the plant small and compact, cut it back about mid-July and again in early September to stimulate branching.

    • Beginning the first of October, put the plant in complete darkness as soon as the sun sets, allowing a minimum of 14 hours of darkness. A bag can be placed over the plant, or it can be set in a closet throughout the day. By the end of November, it will start to color and you will be able to enjoy it for another season.

    Answer by Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 435-919-1276, 
    jerry.goodspeed@usu.edu
    Published on: Jan 07, 2016

    Related Articles

    Ask an Expert: Four Ways to Help Your Kids Unplug

    Ask an Expert: Four Ways to Help Your Kids Unplug

    In today's world, children are exposed to vast amounts of technology. An estimated 75 percent of teenagers own a cell phone, and, not surprisingly, social media sites are their favorite places to visit.

    Read More
    Ask an Expert - Eight Tips for Salvaging Carpets and Clothes after a Flood

    Ask an Expert - Eight Tips for Salvaging Carpets and Clothes after a Flood

    With heavy snowfall and recent warm temperatures, many Utahns have experienced flooding in their homes. Flood or drain backup water may contain sewage and unknown chemicals that can contaminate carpet and present a health hazard.

    Read More
    Ask an Expert: Nine Tips for Fostering Gratitude - During the Holidays and Beyond

    Ask an Expert: Nine Tips for Fostering Gratitude - During the Holidays and Beyond

    What did you get for Christmas? This question is common for young and old alike. While it may be a way of showing genuine interest and sharing in the holiday excitement, it's important to make sure gratitude for gifts and kindness is part of Christmas day and beyond.

    Read More