Here’s a fun fact about this week’s featured houseplant: Although they are only sold about 6 weeks each year, poinsettias are the most popular potted plant in the United States, with about 80 million sold annually.
And let’s dispel some of the bad PR this bringer of holiday tidings has had in the past: (1) poinsettias are easy to care for during their peak season and (2) no, they won’t poison your pets.
And while poinsettias are most visually dazzling during the winter, it’s possible to keep them as a houseplant all year long. It does require a bit of maintenance to get them to re-bloom, however.
Caring for Your Poinsettia
Water: Water only when the top inch of soil has dried out. A good rule of thumb is to carefully lift up the plant; if it feels light, it’s time to water. If the plant is wrapped in decorative foil, take it off before watering to ensure proper drainage. Don’t allow the poinsettia to sit in water and make sure not to get water on the leaves.
Light: Your poinsettia will enjoy a bright, sunny window, but away from direct sunlight.
Temperature: 60 to 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 60 degrees at night will extend the bloom time and keep your poinsettia happy! Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.
After the Holidays
Poinsettias will thrive as a year-round houseplant and, with care, can even be coaxed into blooming again next year. It’s not hard, but it does require diligence.
Fertilize your poinsettia once per month prior to and during blooming, but do not after blooming. In September, you’ll need to restrict the amount of light your poinsettia gets to only about 10 hours. It will need to be in total darkness the rest of that time, so try placing a bucket over it or putting it in a closet. Keep the plant in a cool place with a temperature below 75 degrees.
Once the leaves show some red, you can return your poinsettia to it’s bright, sunny place and resume care as described above.