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HOW TO: Care For Your Poinsettia After The Holidays

I love how beautiful poinsettias look during the holidays, but once Christmas is over, so many people have no idea how to care for them to keep them looking beautiful, and sadly, many of them either get thrown out or don’t live long after the new year.

The best place to keep your poinsettia plant is a nice, sunny spot, free from cold drafts. It should receive at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight every day. You’ll also need to keep it in a location in your home where the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and slightly cooler at night so that it continues to bloom.

You can continue to water it regularly throughout the winter until early spring, then let it dry gradually. Around the middle of April or early May, you can cut the plant back to about 4 inches above the soil and replant it in a larger container for new growth with fresh potting soil. Water the plant thoroughly and place it back in your sunny window to ensure it gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. Check your plant regularly to make sure it has enough moisture, but only water it when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.

Once new growth begins, you can feed your poinsettia every couple of weeks with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Once outside evening temperatures remain above 50 degrees, you can move the plant outdoors in its pot in a slightly shady location. You can gradually allow the plant to get more light until it is finally able to receive full sun. Continue watering and fertilizing the plant as usual during this time.

You can trim again as needed in the summer, typically in July, pinching about an inch of growth from each stem, and pruning it again in early September. Trim off 2-3 inches to promote side branching, allowing 3-4 leaves to remain on each shoot.

By early fall, you can bring the pot back indoors near a sunny window and continue to water and fertilize it.

In order to get your poinsettia to bloom in time for Christmas, you should begin to keep it in complete darkness for about 12-14 hours a day from early October until Thanksgiving (about 8-10 weeks). You can keep it in a closet or cover it with a box every evening and then return the plant to the sunny window during the remaining part of the day.

By Thanksgiving, you should be able to keep the plant in the sunny area for at least six hours daily and stop the dark period altogether.

By Christmas, your poinsettia should be in full bloom.

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