During January and February, people start wondering what they should do with their poinsettia plant. The answer varies depending on what you expect from your plant. Poinsettias have the capabilities of growing all year long and, also blooming again next winter. But this growing process is only interesting for those who really enjoy growing all kinds of plants.

Poinsettias can stay in bloom for a long period of time, even until next September, or longer. But if you want to do things the right way, start by counting backwards. OK, let’s say we want your plant to start blooming around Thanksgiving. Then you must start the “short-day treatment” on the first day of fall, September 22. In order for your plant to be ready for the “short-day treatment”, you must cut your plant back no later than August 20. Now, you may cut you plant back at other times earlier too, such as August 1, and June 15, May 1 and/or March 15…in other words, about every 6 weeks. Do not feel that you need to cut your plant back on all of those dates, but DO cut it back at least one or two times during the growing season.

What usually happens to your poinsettia after Christmas is that the blooms, on top, tend to stay on for a long time however the leaves drop off first. When the leaves drop, you need to slow way down on the watering and allow your plant to get real dry between waterings. Only after you cut the blooms off can you really start to re-grow your poinsettia. As new leaves develop, your plant will start to dry out faster. At first, while there are no leaves, keep the plant very dry. Water it thoroughly, but then no more water for two to three, maybe even four weeks. Do not use fertilizer until April and then fertilize on a regular basis throughout the summer months. In fact do not stop using fertilizer until November. Your poinsettia always likes full sun when ever possible. Maybe a little shade during the hottest time of day during the summer.

Of course your other option is to simply toss away your plant soon after Christmas, knowing that they never are as good the second time around. Poinsettias grow so large during the summer months that it is difficult for them to properly support all of the flowers that they will want to produce in the second year. It may be necessary to thin-out your plant so that there are less stems to produce flowers. After-all, it is much better to have 6 to 12 nice large blooms as opposed to having 30 or 40 little, undeveloped blooms. For instructions on the “short-day treatment”, simply call me in August or early September.

The Waynedale News Staff

Doug Hackbarth - Broadview Florist & Greenhouses

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