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
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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