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How to Grow Poinsettia Flowers
As the Christmas holiday season nears, Poinsettia plants begin appearing everywhere. Poinsettias are the most popular flowering plant of this holiday season, with sales of over 63 million plants. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America, growing best outdoors in warm climates. They are very susceptible to frost and cold weather.
Long blooming Poinsettias make great houseplants. The "flowers" are actually leaves that have turned a bright red. There are a few other flower colors, including white.You will find the plants blooming long after the new year begins. The plants are easy to care.
When bringing plants home in cold weather, keep them protected from the cold. Don't leave them in your car and go back to your Christmas shopping.
Poinsettias are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant back to his plantation in the U.S. He grew the plants in his Greenville, S.C plantation and gave them out as gifts to friends.
Did you Know? By an act of the U.S. Congress, Poinsettia Day was declared to be December 12th, in honor of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. But eating them could give you a stomach ache.
Select Healthy Plants:
Look for lots of dark green leaves and brightly colored flowers, called Bracts. If either the leaves or the flowers are dry or brown around the edges, select another plant. Look for flowers that are completely open. Poinsettias are slow to open. Once they bloom, the flowers will remain full and attractive for several weeks.
If the weather is cold, wrap up the plant well for the trip from the store to the car. Even short exposure to cold and wind can damage your new Poinsettia plant, before it arrives in your home.
Poinsettia plants are propagated by seeds. Home gardeners find Poinsettia seeds are impossible to find. Almost all Poinsettias are sold as plants around the Christmas holiday. Growers have forced them to bloom, for sale at Christmas.
Poinsettia Plant Care:
Poinsettias are easy to care for and to maintain. The plants continue to bloom long after Christmas decorations have been put back into storage. With a little luck, the blooms will last up to Valentines Day.
After bringing your new poinsettia home, Place the plant in a sunny room. The ideal temperature range is 60 - 70 degrees. The plants do not like drafts. Keep them away from sources of high heat, such as a furnace vent or fireplace.
Water the plants thoroughly. Allow the soil dry between watering. Poinsettia plants are forgiving. If they begin to dry out, water them and they bounce right back. If the leaves turn lighter green, the plant needs more sunshine.
Apply an indoor houseplant fertilizer, every 1-2 months.
Growing poinsettia plants outdoors. In the spring, you can move your Poinsettia plant outdoors. Move them outside after the weather warms, and all danger of frost has past. Place them in a sunny location. You can plant them directly into your garden, or into a container. Give the plant a good trim, forcing it into a nicely rounded shape. Apply general purpose fertilizer every two to four weeks.
Bring the plant indoors before the first frost. Poinsettias can not withstand frost. Check carefully to be sure you did not bring in any insects in with your plant.
Did you know? Poinsettias can grow up to 10 feet. But, to grow them this big you will need a few years in a tropical, frost-free environment.
How to Force Poinsettias to Bloom
Forcing Poinsettias to bloom takes time and consistent dedication. If you've never forced them to bloom, it can be a challenging chore.
Beginning in late September to October first, place the plant in total darkness for 12-14 hours a day. Here is where it's tricky. Any small amount of light upsets the cycle. During the day, provide the plant with six hours or more of sunlight. Continue this process daily until early November. Then bring it out into the room. Now with a little luck (some will say a lot of luck) and your personal green thumb, it will be in full bloom during the Christmas holiday.
Tip: A black plastic bag works well. Place the plant in the bag and use a twist tie. Each morning, remove the twist tie and carefully lower the bag to the floor.
Poinsettia Day - celebrate the tradition, origin, history of Poinsettia plants
Grow indoor houseplants from seed. Try growing plants indoors from seed during
the long winter months. Or put some in a gardener's stocking this Christmas.
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