The Poinsettia is an ornamental plant that everyone is familiar with, especially during the holiday season. Its scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, and it is a species originally cultivated in Mexico but now widespread worldwide. This plant enjoys significant commercial success due to its showy appearance, making it ideal for decorating homes, offices, and various environments. The bright red of its leaves symbolizes love, joy, and wishes for future happiness and prosperity. But how do you care for a Poinsettia after the holiday season? What is its proper maintenance, and how can you make it last long? Despite being a hardy species in its place of origin, the Poinsettis are delicate when transferred indoors, requiring specific attention to avoid diseases and leaf loss.
In this article, after getting to know it better, we will provide useful tips for its cultivation and care. This way, the plant will stay healthy, and you’ll have a beautiful and flourishing Poinsettia long after the holiday period.
How to Keep Poinsettias Indoors
Is it possible to extend the life and beauty of Poinsettias even after the holidays? With proper care, it is possible to make our plant last until the next year. The answer is yes, but no aspect should be overlooked, and you must be consistent and attentive in its care. A green thumb is essential in this case!
First, let’s get to know it better.
What is commonly known as Poinsettia is actually called Euphorbia Pulcherrima, which speaks volumes considering that, in Latin, Pulcherrima means most beautiful. Indeed, this plant is beautiful and can reach up to four meters in height in its country of origin, displaying its splendor well beyond the three weeks we are accustomed to.
Considering its origin, one might think that Poinsettias, also known as Poinsettias, dislike the cold. Paradoxically, the winter season is when they shine here. This implies careful consideration of the temperature in which they are kept. While they shouldn’t be kept outside during the winter months, exposing them to a heat source is a sure way to see them wither. Never place a Poinsettia near a radiator, and certainly not next to a fireplace. Although it might be tempting to see it next to a fireplace, be aware that the plant will suffer.
In summary, Poinsettias should be kept in a warm environment, not dry, with a temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. ‘Humidity’ is the keyword: coming from the understory of Mexican forests, this plant requires humidity to thrive.
Another crucial factor in prolonging the life of Poinsettias is light exposure. The plant should be exposed to sunlight, but never directly. A good compromise is placing it in front of a window but behind a curtain. This way, the ornamental plant receives brightness without being directly exposed to sunlight. Poinsettias are typical understory plants, where light reaches but is heavily filtered.
The soil of Poinsettias should never be waterlogged but only kept moist. Water the plant every 2-3 days, avoiding water stagnation, which is harmful to the roots. After watering, it is advisable to wait for the water to penetrate the soil. Once it has collected in the saucer, it should be emptied.
Soil and Fertilization
Now, let’s talk about the ideal soil for Poinsettias. To keep the Poinsettia vigorous and prevent it from depleting quickly, its soil must be well fertilized. You can find suitable organic fertilizer here.
It’s essential to remember that this plant comes from afar. In our homes, heated especially during the Christmas season, it is confined to sometimes very small pots. If you don’t at least pay attention to the soil quality, seeing it wither gradually is inevitable. The fertilization frequency is quite high: once a week is the recommended dose.
Peat is the only soil suitable for Poinsettias (you can find it here).
It’s necessary for the roots to grow undisturbed in a soft and draining habitat. The soil should also have a slightly acidic pH; the measurement should be between 5.8 and 6.3. Finally, for better drainage, sprinkle the bottom of the pot with expanded clay (like this). This ensures proper water management, encouraging the right level of humidity. Excessive water can lead to diseases such as botrytis or the arrival of pests like whiteflies.
How to Repot Poinsettias
If the Poinsettia has been cared for properly, it will reach spring in excellent health. Only then, when the temperatures have settled, can the plant enjoy outdoor exposure. Therefore, Poinsettias can remain on the terrace, balcony, or garden, as long as it’s in the shade and never under direct sunlight. When winter gives way to spring, typically from early April, the Poinsettia will be ready to be transplanted to a more suitable location. Given our climate, harsher than that of Mexico, unfortunately, it can only be moved to another pot and not into the ground. In a larger container (something like this), the Poinsettia will continue to grow and bloom. And when the cold weather returns, it can be moved indoors again.
How do you know when the Poinsettia needs repotting? You’ll notice a clear sign: at the beginning of spring, the Poinsettia becomes a leafless stem. This is the moment when the plant is ready for repotting.
How to Prune Poinsettias
When should you prune Poinsettias? Poinsettias are pruned in spring, when all the old leaves have fallen, either just before or just after the transplant. The branches should be cut with suitable pruning shears. You need blades that make a clean, decisive cut in the middle of each branch and above the leaf junctions. Before pruning, it’s advisable to sprinkle the cut ends with sulfur powder.
The poinsettias is Losing Its Leaves
“What if I haven’t followed the rules listed earlier, and the poinsettia is already losing its leaves? What do I do?” If you haven’t taken care of your poinsettia from the beginning, don’t worry: there’s a recovery technique that could help the plant survive. You’ll need to choose a very dark place in the house, perhaps a storage room or a cellar. Here, you should place the plant for a good 8 weeks, for at least 14 hours a day. The best time to carry out this recovery is usually in the fall. If you observe this rule between September and November, the poinsettia will manage to bloom again, and by November, the first leaves will start to appear. These, by the end of December, will become splendid, red, and vigorous.
Beware of Dogs and Cats
One last precaution: dogs and cats are not the best friends of the poinsettias, so keep them away from the plant. The milky substance that can be seen oozing from the branches or leaves is toxic. If ingested by animals, it can even be lethal. If you want to gift or treat yourself to a poinsettia to display throughout the year, you can find it here.