The Christmas holidays are the time that big box stores, nurseries, and a variety of other stores are filled with beautiful poinsettias. Although generally grown as a houseplant, in the right climate they can be planted outside. This is a guide about growing poinsettia.
I saved this from the trash 3 years ago, it was a mostly dead stick. With lots of care, it is now thriving at over 6 feet tall! Storms have knocked it down, bugs have eaten it up, and it comes back each time and is now the centerpiece of the yard!
It is truly beautiful and I do envy you for having that wonderful vision in your yard. I tried several attempts at growing but they always die outside for me. Lucky you.
This tree is actually a poinsetta plant; it was a Christmas gift from my family a few years ago and I trained it as a tree form. It has full green lush leaves on it and it is a conversation piece on my back deck that it sets on. I have a small nativity scene at the base near the trunk of the "tree" and an ornament "J-o-y" hanging on one of its branches.
By WandaJo from Collierville, Tennessee
Wow..I've never seen one live to be that tall! Great job!
Good job on keeping it alive. I have to confess that I always accidentally commit poinsettia-cide. :)
How did you do that? I still have mine from last year (and it's still red) - I'd love to do that with it. Great Job!!
I trained the poinsetta to be tree form by cutting it back and staking it after it "died down" after the holiday season; I kept it watered and even fertilized it. I kept it cut back until the growth started to grow up the stake; I secured it to grow "up"! When it is brought in the house after the summer season, it will drop its leaves but the bark of the trunk is so pretty; it will turn almost an ivory color and the branches are pretty. There will be a few leaves in sparse areas of the "tree" and at Christmas time I will decorate it with lights and tiny ornaments and tinsel.
I have always considered myself to be a good plant person. I own 9 very large African violets, one spider, Christmas cactus, poinsettia, pot of begonias and several medium bamboo. However very successful with the African violets, every once in a while a bamboo dies which I'm told shouldn't happen. My cactus isn't showing much sign of growth either. Every time I've tried a poinsettia, they die in two weeks. I carefully water it, it gets sunlight whenever it is shining in the SE. My two ideas were that I should re-pot them in better soil and should stop bottom feeding. If you can help me keep my poinsettia alive that would be great.
Hardiness Zone: 6b
Jordan from Farmington, MI
I found this article on-line and use it for my guide. I hope it helps.
DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can't be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.
DO provide room temperatures between 68 - 70° F. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia.
DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.
DO use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.
DON'T place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
DON'T expose plants to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.
Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely.
DON'T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.
DON'T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.
How to Re-Bloom Your Poinsettia
When the poinsettia's bracts age and lose their aesthetic appeal, there's no reason to throw it out. With proper care, dedication and a certain amount of luck, you too can re-bloom your poinsettia!
By late March or early April, cut your poinsettia back to about 8" in height. Continue a regular watering program, and fertilize your plant with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer. By the end of May, you should see vigorous new growth.
Place your plants outdoors, where they can bask in the warmth of spring and summer, after all chance of frost has passed and night temperatures average 55° F or above. Continue regular watering during the growth period, and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.
Pruning may be required during the summer to keep plants bushy and compact. Late June or early July is a good time for this step, but be sure not to prune your plant later than September 1. Keep the plants in indirect sun and water regularly.
Around June 1, you may transplant your poinsettia into a larger pot. Select a pot no more than 4 inches larger than the original pot. A soil mix with a considerable amount of organic matter, such as peat moss or leaf mold, is highly recommended. In milder climates, you may transplant the plant into a well-prepared garden bed. Be sure the planting bed is rich in organic material and has good drainage.
The poinsettia is a photoperiodic plant, meaning that it sets bud and produces flowers as the Autumn nights lengthen. Poinsettias will naturally come into bloom during November or December, depending on the flowering response time of the individual cultivar.
Timing to produce blooms for the Christmas holiday can be difficult outside of the controlled environment of a greenhouse. Stray light of any kind, such as from a street light or household lamps, could delay or entirely halt the re-flowering process.
Starting October 1, the plants must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Accomplish this by moving the plants to a totally dark room, or by covering them overnight with a large box. During October, November and early December, poinsettias require 6 - 8 hours of bright sunlight daily, with night temperatures between 60 - 70° F. Temperatures outside of this range could also delay flowering.
Continue the normal watering and fertilizer program. Carefully following this regime for 8 to 10 weeks should result in a colorful display of blooms for the holiday season!
I can't help with the bamboo, but I pretty much neglect my poinsettias and they seem to thrive for me. I only water it when it looks like it's about to wilt. I water it well...let it sit a few minutes, then I drain whatever water is left in the saucer so that it is not sitting in water. It sits on my dining room table and gets decent light there. I don't even repot mine when I bring them home from the nursery. Works fine for me. I don't have the patience to get them to "bloom" again, but I sometimes put them outside in the summer and grow them as an annual (just for the green foliage).
I just replied to your post with a picture and didn't realize that I wasn't logged in. My post should show up momentarily.
I have what I call a "dead" thumb. I kill everything. I either over water or under water. I even kill cactus. But one year I brought home the usual "2 week Christmas plant", my poinsettia. I marked on the calendar when I watered it and noticed that it looked like it needed it again on the 3rd day. I gave it half a small juice glass of water. So I marked off all the days ahead of time that I should water it, every 3rd day.
To my disbelief, it lasted until November, 11 months later! I was so mad at myself for getting too busy with the Christmas craziness and neglected my poor plant and killed it. I will try to do better next time, who knows I might turn into a "greenish-brown" thumb.
Curious Cat from South Norfolk, VA
Frugalsunnie (see post in feedback forum) has provided you with some excellent information on growing Poinsettias, so I have very little to add. I will say, however, that my limited understanding of 'Poinsettia Tree Production' (which I have personally never tried) comes from a technical bulletin produced by the Paul Ecke Ranch, in Encinitas, California. They are undoubtedly one of the largest (if not THE largest) producers of poinsettias in the United States.
According to the bulletin, certain poinsettia cultivars are indeed much better adapted to producing high quality trees due to their tree - like characteristics - large bracts (leaves) and strong stems. Which ones exactly, I don't know. The ultimate height and shape of a poinsettia tree is also directly dependent on the amount of growing time before what industry growers call the 'first pinch' (a.k.a the first pruning). Apparently, poinsettia trees can be double or triple pinched depending on the final size and shape desired. As an example, producing a 4 - 5 foot poinsettia tree with a lollipop shape requires planting your root cuttings in April, pinching/pruning them for the first time in July, for a second time in August and again for a third time in September. None of this pinching/pruning has anything to do with color production. As Frugalsunnie mentioned, that requires additional attention to light cycles.
None of this information is meant to deter you from trying this on your own, but rather just some interesting information I ran across while visiting their web site: http://www.ecke.com/new1/.
I'm a two state Master Gardener with a bit of experience with the lovely Poinsettia, so I think I can give you some worthwhile feedback.
The Poinsettia is really a weed discovered in the 19th century by an American traveling in Central Mexico. He brought it back to America, and its popularity was immediate.
The plants available today have been hybridized and require a lot of work to keep them going beyond the first season you purchase them. You can try planting them outside after the holidays depending on your planting zone in a darker corner of your yard; I say darker because to flower (the actual flower is the little yellow 'bead', the gorgeous red is leaf) the plant requires up to 14 daily dark hours. Floridians and Lower Alabamians really do just toss the plant out the back door and forget about it:) It makes an interesting yard plant.
Because the plant is still a weed even though it has been hybridized (mainly to encourage all those lovely colour variations), the stem will turn to wood and basically become a trunk after a year or two in the ground. The foliage and flower sets will mainly grow at the top, giving the plant a tree look without your having to prune a thing.
You can achieve the same results in a container; you'll need a large enough container to support healthy roots-Poinsettia hates wet feet but likes to be evenly moist while given opportunity to dry between waterings; be prepared to 'pot-up' at least every couple years; it would be easier on your back to put your potted Poinsettia on rollers, then you can roll it into a closet on schedule so that it receives its needed dark hours for flowering-you'll need to figure out the time by watching the sun patterns in your area, and the hours of light the plant gets if you've chosen to make it a large house plant; roll it into the dark place so that your plant is worked into 14 hours of dark by late August or very early September. By Thanksgiving your plant will be beautiful, and ready to display.
You'll need to feed it a little something every and then, I used a Jobe's Grow Spikes package that listed Poinsettia.
Several good books-look for the most current because these plants really are hybridized, and new information comes out with each crop-are out there about Poinsettia culture, and include two warnings:
Patents are in place for any Poinsettia you've purchased and are fiercly protected-you can't sell cuttings or other plant parts if you've purchased the plant commercially from a nursery (the best source of quality plants), home imrovement stores (the second best source) or one of the 'Marts or grocery.
Over-wintering Poinsettia is a pain in the neck, and it is easier to simply toss the plant when it gets ugly (and Poinsettia does, trust me:) and purchase new the next holiday season. But everyone should try, it's great fun if you're prepared for the work.
I tried one time, collecting all of the ones my friends were throwing out after New Year's. I got the plants into one huge container on my Lower Alabama deck, and took very great care of the thing, even getting my then husband to construct a cover so the plants could get their dark hours.
It was the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time, and a hard freeze killed it off overnight the week after Thanksgiving.
Last year I found some fantastic month by month tips on keeping a poinsettia alive and coaxing it to bloom again year after year. I followed them to the letter and my poinsettia was doing beautifully. I was looking forward to it being bigger and prettier this year.
But in late September all of a sudden it dropped all the new leaves and brackets it had grown and withered and died. I can't figure out why. Can anybody help me so I can try again this year?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By Cricket from Parkton, NC
I saved a poinsettia from last year after reading a tip to just pour your left over coffee in each day. It has worked beautifully! That is really all I did other than cut it back after last Christmas and it has done great. I have never been able to keep them alive before.
gr8dnm, this is great except I don't drink coffee except rarely and when I do I put cream and sugar in it. I've got no problem with making some for the plants tho. How many cups should I give it every day?
I'm bound and determined to find a way to keep them from year to year!