Mike McQueen is a regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System serving the Southwest Coastal Region and he resides in Excel, Alabama. He specializes in the areas of home grounds, home gardens and home pests.

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Caring For Your Poinsettia Year Round
by Mike McQueen       #Holiday: Christmas   #Flowers   #How to

People have different opinions about the poinsettia. Some consider it a holiday plant to be enjoyed during the month of December, then discarded with the Christmas tree. Others like to nurture their plants, coaxing them into bloom season after season.

There's no guarantee that your poinsettia will bloom again next December, even with year-round care. But if you would like to try, here are a few tips.

First, be sure to choose a plant with small, tightly clustered yellow buds in the center. Avoid plants that are displayed in drafty areas.

Protect the plant from the elements during the trip from the store to your home. Wrap in layers of newspaper or a double brown paper bag.

Place the plant in a room with plenty of bright, natural light. Keep the plant out of drafts and away from appliances and refrigerators. Never place your poinsettia on a television.

Water only when dry; discard the excess water that runs through the pot's drainage holes. If the plant is wrapped in foil, make sure the pot doesn't sit in water inside the decorative wrap.

A good way to remember when to provide extra attention to your poinsettia is by setting your care schedule to specific holidays. Here's how:

NEW YEAR'S DAY — Fertilize with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer at recommended rates. Continue to provide adequate light and water for prolonged bloom for several weeks.

VALENTINE'S DAY — Check your plant for signs of insects such as whitefly. If your plant has become long and leggy, cut it back to about 5 inches tall.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY — Remove faded and dried parts of the plant. Add more soil, preferably a commercially available sterile soil mix. Keep the plant in a very bright location.

MEMORIAL DAY — Trim off 2 to 3 inches of branches to promote side branching. Repot to a larger container using a sterile growing mix.

FATHER'S DAY — Move the plant outside for the summer; place in indirect light.

FOURTH OF JULY — Trim the plant again. Move it into full sun. Continue to water and fertilize but increase the amount to accelerate growth.

LABOR DAY — Move indoors to a spot that gets at least six hours of direct light daily, preferably more. As new growth begins, reduce the amount of fertilizer.

AUTUMNAL EQUINOX — Starting on or near September 21st, give the plant 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness (put the plant in a closet or under a box) and 11 hours of bright light each day. Maintain night temperatures in the low 60 F range. Continue to water and fertilize. Rotate the plant daily to give all sides even light.

THANKSGIVING — Discontinue the short day/long night treatment. Put the plant in a sunny area that gets at least six hours of direct light. Reduce water and fertilizer.

CHRISTMAS — Enjoy your "new" poinsettia. Start the cycle all over again.



Posted: 11/29/18   RSS | Print


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