Christmas is just a few days away.

Like most people, you probably have at least one poinsettia in your home. They are such pretty and unique plants it is a shame to throw them out after the holidays.

If you follow the steps below, you can keep it and make it bloom during the next holiday season!

January to March

Keep plant in indirect light and away from cold drafts. 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 (one that contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium).

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 to December

Poinsettias are considered “short-day” plants, which mean they have to experience days with less than twelve hours of day light in order to bloom. Poinsettias need eight to ten 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, you can remove the plant from the dark area.

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