In this article I will tell how you can take care your poinsettia plants indoors and outdoors. How you can grow poinsettias outside, in your garden. What gives poinsettias the characteristic red bracts.
Poinsettia is a popular Christmas plant because of its colorful bracts (modified leaves rather than flowers). Actually, poinsettias are the number one potted plant sold in the United States. This is worth mentioning, given the fact that they sell mainly during the Christmas holiday season.
They are native to Mexico, and belong to the Euphorbia family. Is a relative of other indoor plants, such as the Crown of Thorns and Croton, and annuals like the Chenille plant and Castor bean.
When poinsettias change color
Poinsettias change color in response to shorter winter days. Poinsettia flowers are actually made up of the bracts, which look like petals, and the tiny yellow flowers in the center, called cyathia. The colorful bracts attract insects to the flowers and will drop after pollination.
The poinsettia is a long-night plant; that is, it flowers when the days are only 8-10 hours in length. As this plant would typically bloom in the spring, following its natural winter conditions, tricking the plant into an early winter means spring-blooming can take place for Christmas.
To initiate flowering, limit the plant to only 8 or 9 hours of good bright light each day for six to eight weeks, starting at the end of September. The other 15 to 16 hours should be dark (in a closet, under a box, etc.) No artificial light is allowed. Any interruption in the plant’s long night may prevent bud formation. Continue to water the plant as needed during this period, but do not fertilize. Once the bracts (top leaves) begin to darken or show color, discontinue the short-day treatment and the plant should continue to deepen in color.
How to grow poinsettias indoors
Follow these guidlines to have healthy and colorful poinsettia plants in your house during the Christmas holiday season.
Place your poinsettia in bright, indirect light. Put in a south, east or west window where the plant will receive bright daylight.
The ideal indoor temperature is 18 – 21 degrees Celsius. Poinsettias will suffer damage if they are exposed to temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. Freezing temperatures will kill poinsettias.
Avoid placing poinsettias where temperature fluctuates or may be drying, such as near cold drafts, heat ducts, fireplaces, fans, space heaters, etc.
Allow the soil to dry moderately between waterings so that the roots don’t stand in water.
Water plant when the soil surface feels dry to a light touch, or pot feels lightweight when lifted. Never allow poinsettias to get so dry that they wilt.
You do not need to fertilize your poinsettia during the holidays.
Start fertilizing your plant when you see new growth (new green leaves, stems, bracts).
Fertilize with an all-purpose household plant fertilizer.
How to grow poinsettias outdoors
Although poinsettia is treated as a short living winter holidays house plant, it can grow outside. Growing poinsettia outdoors is easy and you can enjoy them for many years to come.
In nature, poinsettias are indeed outdoor plants. They are tender perennials native to southern Mexico, where they thrive in the warm weather.
They can live outside year round, as long as the temperatures don’t drop consistently below 7 degrees Celsius.
In warm climates that they can become tall shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 3 meters!
Plant poinsettias in the soil or plant them in pots?
If the temperature in your region doesn’t drop bellow 7 degrees Celsius, you can safely plant poinsettias directly in soil. Otherwise it is better to keep them in pots that you can move indoors if the outside temperature drops bellow 7 degrees Celsius. Poinsettias cannot survive in cool environments. Remember that is a tropical plant.
Time to plant / move poinsettia plants outside
The best time to plant a poinsettia outside is after all chance of frost has completely passed.
Wait until temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees Celsius. This is usually sometime in early to mid-spring.
Where to plant / move poinsettia plants outside
Poinsettias will grow best outside in well-draining, slightly acidic soil.
Choose a spot that gets full sun to partial shade and is protected from the wind.
To have blooms in the fall and winter, it is important that they also have complete darkness at night. So keep them away from areas where they’ll be exposed to ambient indoor or street lights.
Greek name: Ποϊνσέττια (Αλεξανδρινό).
Sources: https://www.meadowsfarms.com/blog/how-to-care-for-your-poinsettia/, https://extension.umn.edu/houseplants/poinsettia, https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-grow-poinsettias/
Tags: ORNAMENTAL PLANTS