Inimitable poinsettias are inseparable from Christmas traditions. Appearing on sale shortly before the winter holidays, they bring New Year’s mood to our homes and apartments. In general, these plants are not just seasonal, but “highly specialized”. But throwing them away after all the New Year’s tinsel has been collected is not worth it. Albeit short-lived, they can delight us for much longer than a few magical winter weeks. These bushes can bloom every winter, but for this, poinsettias need proper care and attention after the holidays.
What to do with poinsettia after the holidays?
Biological features of poinsettia
Poinsettia, which few people call a botanical name Euphorbia the most beautiful (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Is one of the unique plants that bloom when the length of daylight decreases. It is no coincidence that it is called the perfect winter view. The natural developmental cycle of poinsettia involves flowering at a time when most flowering plants enter the dormant stage.
But the poinsettia is not expected to bloom at all. After all, small, bead-like flowers, collected at the top of the shoots in nondescript inflorescences, are almost invisible. The bracts made the symbol of Christmas poinsettia – the upper leaves, slightly smaller in size than the main ones, but identical in shape, located at the tops of the stems.
With the beginning of flowering, they are repainted, completely changing the tone to red, white, purple, pink, acrylic-aniseed or yellow, depending on the variety. Poinsettia blooms from 3 to 6 months, only then losing its dazzling leaves.
Poinsettias are perennial plants. They can be saved from year to year if you create the right conditions for them. At least the bushes after the simplest procedures can be used for vegetative propagation and “replacement” cultivation. If you find the right approach for them, then every December the faithful plant will delight you with the same bright colors.
Throwing out poinsettias as a temporary decor is convenient, because new plants fill the counters en masse every year. But you should not rush to get rid of poinsettia after the holidays. She is able to delight not only a few weeks with bright bracts in winter, but also with their juicy greens in summer.
But even buying poinsettias just as a living Christmas decor, you need to understand that they are quite capricious. These indoor plants suffer from improper watering and low air humidity, require tropical conditions and special care.
To keep plants beautiful, you need to know some secrets and pay attention to the plant. But the result is worth it. Proper care during flowering and strict adherence to periods of active development and rest is the main guarantee of the preservation of poinsettia for the next year.
As long as the bright leaves are there – just take care
Even if you do not plan to save the plant, let it “live” as long as it can, that is, do not throw it away with the tree. Until the loss of decorativeness, the loss of bright bracts and wilting – a state in which the poinsettia will no longer look attractive – leave it with you and admire the unique textures and colors.
And in order for the plant to decorate the interior longer, provide perfect care that allows it to preserve its decorative effect for as long as possible:
- Poinsettias do not like heat. It is better to limit maximum temperatures to 25 degrees (the cooler the place, the longer the bright bracts will last). Ideal temperatures are around 18 degrees.
- Plants need to be protected from temperature extremes and drafts, even light ones. As well as from any cold surfaces with which neither leaves nor pots should come into contact.
- Poinsettias prefer 12-hour daylight hours and bright diffused lighting on an eastern, western or partially southern windowsill without direct sunlight.
- Air humidity for poinsettia should be increased. This plant does not tolerate dry air and the proximity of air conditioners or heating appliances. Spraying is acceptable. But it is better to install a pallet with damp decorative materials that fit into the decor – for example, stone chips, colored expanded clay or glass.
- Water the poinsettia so that the soil always slightly dries out between waterings completely in the upper 2-3-cm, but does not have time to dry out in the center of the pot. Stable light humidity is ideal. You can water the poinsettia only with warm soft water, draining it from the trays immediately.
- You can feed the poinsettia to prolong the decorative effect, but you should not overdo it with fertilizers: a month after the acquisition or the beginning of flowering, complex fertilizers are applied. If the poinsettia retains the bracts further, 1 non-concentrated feeding is carried out once every 4-6 weeks.
- In poinsettia, you need to regularly remove wilted leaves, maintaining the neat appearance of the bushes.
Read more about the care and types of poinsettia in the article Poinsettia – the main houseplant in winter.
Dormant period of poinsettia
As soon as the poinsettia releases green leaves over the bracts, and then begins to shed bright leaves (most often a part of the “normal” greenery falls off the plant), the plant will require completely different conditions and care. Of course, at this time, you can just throw the poinsettia. But it is not difficult to save it for the next year.
It is enough to cut the bushes to stumps with a height of about 8-15 cm (at least 3, ideally 5 buds are left on the shoots) and transfer them to a cool place with a temperature from 12 (but not lower) to 15-16 degrees Celsius. Within 1,5-2 months, the plant needs to be watered very rarely, completely drying the substrate between these procedures.
Read also our article What houseplants do not bloom without a cool winter?
A new cycle of active growth and preparation for flowering
When the poinsettia begins to “wake up” (usually a surprisingly large number of new leaves appear on the plant at the same time), it is transplanted into nutritious, loose and light soil. A universal substrate with loosening additives, soil for euphorbia or soil based on a leafy sod soil mixture with small additions of peat, sand and perlite is suitable. Poinsettias are planted in compact containers, only slightly increasing their size (in spacious containers they easily lose their compactness).
The transplanted bushes are exposed to fresh air or a bright window, protected from drafts and begin to water in the same way as during flowering. Top dressing is applied every 2-3 weeks, with universal fertilizers or fertilizers intended for decorative deciduous plants. The formation of bushes is carried out at the beginning of growth, leaving 4-6 strong shoots from among the new branches.
In September, for poinsettia, daylight hours are limited, shading the plant with an artificial cap or screens for 14 hours. Flower buds are laid with a day length of about 10 hours. Watering is reduced, allowing the substrate to dry out by half. Fertilizers are changed for species for decorative flowering plants, increasing the frequency of fertilizing up to 1 time per week. After 2 months, the standard flowering phase is resumed.
Read also our article 7 of the best winter flowering indoor plants.
Loose poinsettias or plants that you don’t want to “play with” can be used to propagate and grow new, young and healthy plants. After washing off the milky juice in warm water and drying the sections, the apical green cuttings are rooted under a hood in a light substrate (or just in water).