By Jill West, Head Annuals Grower
Pampering Your Poinsettias
Poinsettias are the most beloved holiday plant, brightening up our homes during the darkest time of the year. Because they bring so much color and joy into our lives, it can be hard to let go sometimes after the holidays are over and send them to the compost pile. (Despite their bad rap, poinsettias are NOT poisonous, so it is safe to compost them.) If you’re up for a challenge though, you can get your poinsettia to re-bloom the following year with a little hard work (okay, maybe a lot of hard work).
Once the holidays are over (January through March), continue to care for your poinsettia as you did when you first brought it home. Allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings, and be sure to apply enough water so that the pot is evenly moist and some drains out the bottom. However, it is very important that poinsettias do not sit in water, so be sure to discard any water that drains through the pot.
Keep the plant near a brightly lit window, in a room where the day temperatures are between 65 and 75 degrees. Night temperatures can be cooler, but make sure your poinsettia doesn’t get colder than 55 degrees.
At the beginning of April, cut the poinsettia stems back to about 8”. Don’t worry if you don’t have too many leaves left after you cut it back – more leaves will sprout along the stems. Continue watering as before, but keep in mind you will most likely be watering less since you removed a lot of foliage.
As soon as new growth appears, begin fertilizing once a week with a well balanced, all purpose fertilizer. This is also a good time to replant your poinsettia into a larger pot. If the container is too large, the soil can hold too much water, causing the roots of the poinsettia to rot, so it’s best to choose a new container that is no more than 4” larger than the original. You can also move your poinsettia outside for the summer months.
Around mid-July, pinch each stem back, leaving 3 to 4 leaves on each stem. This will make your poinsettia well branched and bushy and also create lots of blooms on the plant. If you moved your plant outside, bring it back inside around the middle of August, and continue to water and fertilize through the rest of summer and early fall.
Now comes the tricky part. Poinsettias are short day plants, which means they will naturally flower when the day length is less than 12 hours. Starting October 1, poinsettias must receive 14 hours of complete darkness every day, from 6 pm to 8 am. You can do this a few ways – cover the plant with a cardboard box (or some other container that light can’t get through), or place the plant in a closet or cabinet. It’s extremely important that no light gets through during the dark treatment. Any exposure to light will delay flowering, even something as little as light coming in under the closet door or repeatedly opening the closet door. The dark treatment must be done every day from October 1 until Thanksgiving.
If all has gone well, you will be rewarded for all of your hard work. At the end of the dark treatment, the bracts (modified leaves that turn the showy colors we think of as poinsettia “flowers”) should be starting to change colors. Stop fertilizing at this time, and continue to care for your poinsettia the same as when you first purchased it.
Don’t be too disheartened if it didn’t work out though – it’s a hard process to master. The great news is you can leave all of the hard work to us! With over 50,000 poinsettias to choose from, we can always guarantee a beautiful selection.
Try something a little easier:
Put the plant near a bright window and water as needed, feeding every two weeks with a well balanced, all purpose fertilizer. Remove faded flowers and stalks, but do not cut the foliage. In mid-September/October, gradually begin withholding water.
Once the foliage dies down, trim it all off and put the plant in a
cool, dark place (like a basement or garage) for six weeks.
After the six week rest period, bring the amaryllis back to the brightly lit window and begin watering normally again.
You should have foliage and flowers in a few short weeks!
Give Christmas Cactus a try:
Get your orchids to re-bloom:
The number one reason orchids don’t bloom is that they do not get enough light. Orchids require bright, indirect light, preferably from a west or east facing window. The foliage on the plant should be bright green in color. If it’s more of a rich, dark green, this indicates the plant is not getting enough light and should be moved to a more brightly lit spot in your home.
Orchids are epiphytes, which mean they grow on other plants (like tree canopies) and take all their nutrients from rain water or organic matter that falls into the nook in which they are growing. In other words, orchids don’t require as much water or fertilizer as some other houseplants. Generally they need to be watered once every 7-10 days, thoroughly soaking the medium. Though they are not heavy feeders, regular fertilizer is important to keep the plant healthy and encourage new blooms. Apply a weak plant food (half the normal strength) once a month.
The difference between day and night temperatures is also an important factor in flower formation in orchids. In general, the night temperature should be 10-15 degrees cooler than the day temperature to initiate flower stalks. If your orchid is in a room with a stable temperature, move it to a cooler location in the evenings, or try cracking a nearby window to create a cooler environment around the plant – just be sure the temperature doesn’t get below 50 degrees!
If you follow this year round care regime, you should be able to re-bloom your orchid successfully.