The Richmond Register

December 26, 2012

Poinsettias aren’t just for Christmas

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

RICHMOND — Just because Christmas is over, you don’t have to throw out your poinsettia!

Below is a calendar of how to manage your poinsettia so that it will re-bloom for the following Christmas.

• January to March: Water as needed.

• May: Cut back stems to about three to six inches above the soil. Now would also be a good time to repot if needed. Continue to water the plant as needed.

• Spring: Fertilize every two to three weeks with a complete fertilizer.

• June: Move plants outside to a partially shaded area. When shoots begin to grow, you may need to increase the frequency of watering.

• July: as the shoots get longer, be sure to keep height in check by pinching back about one inch. This should leave about four or five leaves per stem. Pinching will not only shorten the plant, but also will make the plant fuller.

• August to September: Bring the poinsettia back inside to a sunny location.

• October: Poinsettias are considered “short-day” plants, which mean they have to experience days with less than 12 hours of day light in order to bloom. In fact, poinsettias need eight to 10 weeks of short days to flower. That means that if you want your plant to bloom for Christmas, you will need to start the process in early October. If you want it to bloom early, you would need to begin the process earlier.

To initiate short days the plant must be in complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., which can be accomplished by placing the plant in a dark closet or in a light-proof box. Any light that is received during the dark period can delay flowering. Light is still needed for growth, so the plant should be placed in a sunny location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Water as needed and fertilize every week according to the fertilizer label until bract (the colored leaf portion of the plant) color develops.

Once color is visible, it is not necessary to keep the poinsettia in complete darkness during the night. At this time, the plant flowers with any amount of daylight.

Eat Local, Grow Local

The Eat Local, Grow Local Club will be meeting on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Madison County Extension Center to discuss buying seeds for the vegetable garden. They will discuss local sources, favorite catalogs, and recommended varieties for Kentucky plus personal favorites. Everyone is welcome.

Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.