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Poinsettia
In Perennial
Kenneth Tittle
Jan 12, 2022
Holiday Care Guide Poinsettias can be grown as attractive green plants, but most people are interested in making their green poinsettia colorful again and ready for the holidays. It is not an easy task, as it requires excluding light from the plant for a period of time while keeping the plant healthy. The reduction in light prevents the plant from producing chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plant parts green. This changes the bracts to red, pink or white, depending on the poinsettia variety. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension professor emeritus at the University of Vermont and author of Caring for Your Poinsettia Year-Round, developed an easy-to-follow poinsettia care calendar based on the holidays of the year. New Year's Day Fertilize if you see new growth. 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 white fly, and manage them if you find them. See Managing insects on indoor plants. If your plant has become long and leggy, cut back to about five inches tall to promote more compact growth. St. Patrick's Day Prune off faded and dried parts of the plant. Remove leaves from the soil surface, and add a little more potting soil if the roots are visible. Continue keeping the plant in a bright, sunny window. Memorial Day Trim off two to three inches of branches to promote side branching. If you plan to continue growing your poinsettia as a potted plant, transplant into a container. Father's Day Move the plant outside for the summer and place in indirect light. You can also transplant it directly into your garden. 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 fertilizer to one-quarter the recommended strength. Fall equinox Starting on or near Sept. 21, give the plant 16 hours of uninterrupted darkness (put the plant in a closet, basement or under a box) and 8 hours of bright light every day. Note that during the dark period, the plant cannot receive even the slightest bit of light at any time. Maintain night temperatures in the low 60 degrees F range. Continue to water and fertilize at the reduced rate. 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 after the new year.
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Kenneth Tittle
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