Euphorbia pulcherrima - Poinsettia

Poinsettia is possibly the most popular of all holiday plants. The tiny, inconspicuous flowers are surrounded by large, colorful bracts of bright red, pink, or creamy white. Although Poinsettias have been vastly improved, they are still temperamental as houseplants and require very particular cultural practices to keep on after the holidays.


Light: Poinsettias require four hours of direct sunlight a day.

Watering: Water the Poinsettia thoroughly when the top few inches have dried out. Do not allow the plant to wilt, as this will cause inherent weakness and lead to quick demise.

Temperature: Poinsettias do best in night temperatures between 55-65°F and day temperatures between 65-70°F. Avoid warm and cold drafts as rapid water loss will result in wilt and leaf drop.

Humidity: A relative humidity above 50% is preferred to successfully grow Poinsettias. Additional moisture can be provided by setting the plant on a tray of pebbles that is kept moist and/or use a humidifier.

Feeding: Unless the plant is to be forced or grown from cuttings for future holidays, extra fertilization in unnecessary. For plants to be grown on, feed with a water soluble, all-purpose liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season (March through September).

Transplanting: When pot bound, move the plant into the next largest pot size. If the plant is in a plastic pot move it into a new plastic pot, if it is growing well in a clay pot move it into a new clay pot. The soil mix preferred by Poinsettia is equal parts sterilized houseplant potting soil and coarse builder's sand or perlite.

Propagation: Tips of healthy side shoots that have not produced flower bracts make the best cuttings. Make a 3-4"cutting just above a node, let it harden-off so that no milky sap oozes, and place it into a small glass of water. Change the water often and keep the cutting in a warm and light. Once the cuttings have developed a 2" root system, pot in 3-inch plastic containers.

Maintenance: In order to induce a Poinsettia into bloom for the next season, grow it in a sunny location.

After all danger of frost is past it can be grown in a partially sunny location outside. Continue to fertilize it and be sure to pinch back the growing tips to induce bushiness. Bring it back indoors before frost and subject it to 14 hours of total darkness each night until the bracts begin to show color. Then it can be brought into the light and treated as a houseplant.

Special Note: The darkness must be uninterrupted each night or the buds will fail to form. To insure success, keep the night temperatures low and don't forget to expose the plant to light each day after the 14 hours of darkness.

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