Here comes Christmas…Secret Santa and the gift exchange, meals spent together with friends and relatives, the decorations…and the Poinsettia of course!
Then, once the holidays are over, the relatives leave, the decorations are put in boxes and we go on a diet, the Poinsettia will remain. Here some simple tips to care poinsettia and make it bloom again in the following months!
Where to place the plant
Native to Mexico, it prefers a warm, moist environment, but does not like high temperature fluctuations, so it should be kept away from heat sources or draughts.
In summer-winter it is best to keep this plant indoors.
In spring-autumn it is possible to move it outside if placed in semi-shade and in a sheltered place.
It cannot tolerate temperatures below 12-15°C (53,6-59°F) and above 25-27°C (77-80,6°F).
How often and how to water it
Despite its appearance, it is very similar to a succulent plant so it hates stagnation and consequently it is recommended to water only when the soil is dry.
You can check the moisture level in several different ways: by tanning the soil, checking its colour or by sticking a toothpick in the soil and checking if it is dry when it is pulled out.
It is bette to water the poinsettia by immersion like orchids. Place the pot in a bowl with water halfway up the pot for 10 to 15 minutes.
The water must be free of chlorine or lime.
In general in autumn-spring you water once every 2 or 3 days and in summer you can even water daily.
Once the holidays are over, the plant will start to lose leaves, but don’t worry, it is simply going into vegetative rest.
March is pruning time. Take scissors or disinfected shears and make a slanting cut over two or three nodes (where there were leaves that have fallen off and where new ones will sprout). If new leaves have already sprouted, take care not to cut them.
Slightly toxic latex will come out of the cuts so keep away from children and animals and wear gloves during this process.
You can create a sort of ‘plug’ with melted wax using a candle over the cut part to avoid fungal or bacterial infections.
Repot the plant for the first time, then this process should be repeated every two years or when you see roots from the drainage holes.
A terracotta pot would be best, but PLASTIC ones are also perfectly suitable for poinsettia. Put some expanded clay in the bottom and use soil for acidophilic plants (pH 5.5 – 6.5) and PERLITE to drain the soil.
It is recommended to fertilise with water-soluble balanced fertiliser about once a week from April to September.
To make red petals bloom again, it is fundamental that the plant is kept in the dark for 12 hours. Artificial lights can also interfere in this cycle, so it may be covered with a paper bag to simulate the 12 hours of darkness.