Poinsettias are the traditional Christmas plant. They are in the Euphorbiaceae family. The bright red colored parts of the plant are not actually flowers, but colored bracts or modified leaves. There are more than 100 varieties available from the traditional red to white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled. The actual flowers of the plant are the small yellow blooms in the center of the bracts. Choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing and the plant will last longer. It is a rumor that Poinsettias are poisonous. This is false. One would have to eat many leaves to become ill and the leaves are bitter so children and pets are not even likely to eat them. Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. People with latex allergies may have a skin reaction after touching the leaves.
Poinsettias are native to Central America where they can grow up to 10-15 feet tall. Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States in 1828 from Mexico. He was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.
Re-blooming the Poinsettia the following year is possible but is not likely to be as beautiful as when first purchased. Homeowners without a greenhouse find it difficult to reproduce techniques and conditions used in commercial production.
After the holidays, maintain the plant indoors until night temperatures outside reach 60 degrees F. Keep the plant near a sunny window and barely moist, but not soggy. In early April cut the plant back to 6-8 inches tall. Repot before putting it outdoors for the summer. Use some Full Circle Plant Probiotic in the soil mix when repotting. Place plants where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct but not scalding sunlight. If placed in a flower bed keep the roots from spreading out of the pot into the soil. It will shock the plant if these are cut before bringing inside. In July, pinch the plants to keep stocky and well branched. When night temperatures get into the 50’s F, bring them inside. Place in a sunny window and feed Full Circle Plant Probiotic monthly.
Now the strict schedule begins. On October 1 the poinsettias must be kept in the dark from 5pm until 8am, and then place in bright light. Night temps between 65-70 F. Daytime 70-80 F. There must be a 10 degree difference so not a continuous 70 F. The dark period can be accomplished by placing the plant in a closet or under a box that has been painted black inside. There should be no interruptions of this light by opening of the door or lifting the box until the time period is up. When the bracts have begun to color, they will need 6-8 hours of full sun until bracts are completely colored. Discontinue feeding to prolong bloom and display for the holidays. Good Luck and enjoy!