All Year Round Poinsettia Care

Credit: Chris Scredon/iStock

Q: At the beginning of last December, a friend gave me a poinsettia plant, which is now outside in a pot. It has lost hardly any of its leaves and looks very healthy. Am I still supposed to cut it back to 15 cm (6 in.)? Or shall I just repot it, as it is?

Many people regard the poinsettia as a special and important addition to their festive decorating. No other plant better represents the warmth and appeal of the season. But it need not end there—there is a way to enjoy poinsettias year-round without losing the particular appeal it has in the holidays.

After you have enjoyed the plant through December and January, remove any remaining bracts (the coloured part that we refer to as the flowers).

Keep it inside as an attractive leafy houseplant, but find a cool spot to ensure its survival through May.

Now comes the drastic part: in late May cut the plant’s height down by half (for example, if the plant stands 18 inches, cut it down to 9 inches) and place it in the garden or on your patio in a filtered-light environment. This would also be a good time to repot it.

It’s important to fertilize it with 20-20-20 on a bi-weekly basis. Keep it outside until mid-August, then bring it indoors and start giving it long, long nights—16 hours of darkness everyday—by keeping it in a closet or dark room, wherever there is total darkness without natural or artificial light. This can be a little monotonous but it will ensure the bracts colour up.

After about 45 days, or when you notice the plant is getting the poinsettia’s true colour—full bract formation is not necessary but the plant must have begun its colour process—move the poinsettia to exactly where you want to display it for the remainder of the holiday season. Then… repeat step one.