Many of us enjoy potted poinsettias during the holiday season. However, we often give up on the poinsettia, once the season is over and the festive color has been lost. With some care, a poinsettia can be around for seasons to come, if planted in your home landscape.
Once your poinsettia starts to fade after the holiday, you can prepare it for transplanting. Since we live in the cooler, northern area of the state, you’ll have to hold your plant in a protected area until the danger of frost has pasted. During this period, the poinsettia should be allowed to become dormant. Water it occasionally, just enough to keep it from drying out. A thorough soaking about once a week should be sufficient. Poinsettias are especially sensitive to extremes of heat and cold, as well as sudden temperature changes. Because of this, keep your potted poinsettia away from hot air vents, cold windows and doorways, where temperature fluctuates rapidly. Keep your poinsettia in a brightly lighted area, but never in direct sun.
When you’re ready to plant the poinsettia in your landscape, you should carefully consider its placement relative to the amount of light it will receive. Poinsettias are “short day” plants. This means they will set buds in the fall only if the daily period of light they receive is relatively short. If you plant your poinsettia where it’s exposed to extra illumination from porch, window, or street lights, it may never bloom.
Poinsettias will grow in a wide range of soils, sand, muck, marl, and clay and they will need fertilizer. For the correct nutrients, apply a complete fertilizer, such as a 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, three times a year, beginning when growth starts in the spring, in June, and finally in the late fall, after the bracts (flowering leaves) have set. This last application promotes large bracts with showy color. Apply 1 ½ pounds of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 per 100 square feet each application of fertilizer.
In late winter or early spring, after blooming is over and the danger of frost is no more, poinsettias should be pruned back to within 12 to 18 inches off the ground. If they’ve been frozen, you may have to cut even lower. To insure compact, showy plants at flowering time, poinsettias should be pruned several times during the growing season. Each time new growth reaches a length of 12 inches, it should be cut or pinched back, leaving four leaves on each shoot. This operation should be continued until about Sept. 10, but no later. Because poinsettias begin to set buds as days become shorter, pruning after Sept. 10 may reduce flower production.
Following these tips should reward you with another beautiful burst of color next holiday season. For more information contact Gulf County Extension Office at 639-3200.
Information for this article was provided by UF/IFAS Extension Horticulturist Dr. Robert Black. More information on the poinsettia can be found at https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/poinsettia.html
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.