While poinsettias are tropical plants, they can still survive the entire winter and summer if you know how to care for them. Generally, this plant is ideally suited for growing in hardy zones 9 to 11. However, it is possible to grow them in other zones too.
Here are some tips on how to care for poinsettias that will ensure survival of your plant regardless of the climate and temperature you are living in:
If you are living in a cold climate, then place your poinsettia only after the danger of frost has passed. Also, ensure that the location outdoors allows the plant to get ample sunlight during the morning, but it is protected from the hot sun during the afternoon. The soil should be well draining to prevent water logging. (See Reference 1)
The poinsettia should be fed once a month. If the soil does not contain too much organic matter, it is best to opt for a liquid fertilizer. However, if the soil is rich in organic matter, then fertilize it just once before the beginning of the growing season in spring. (See Reference 1)
When the soil appears dry, water the plant. In late fall, cut the old growth or branches of the plant. This will facilitate growth of new branches in spring. In case you want the plant to produce more flowers,
inch off new buds from spring until early part of summer. Once the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees, it is time to bring the poinsettia indoors. (See Reference 1)
If you want your poinsettia to have the characteristic bright red colored bracts, you would have to \provide it with 14 to 16 hours of darkness everyday. Usually, this should be done from 5 in the evening until 8 in the morning the following day. You can provide darkness to the plant by placing it in a closet or covering with a heavy bag. However, the following day, the plant should get about 6 hours of sunlight. The temperature indoors should be maintained between 55 degrees and 60 degrees. If the temperature is more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it can cause the plant to decay. (See Reference 1)
If the plant is not watered or mulched properly, it can get root knot. In addition, if the environment is too warm and moist, the plant can get bacterial infection. In warm and wet conditions, the plant is prone to rot. Hence, ensure that when it is raining outdoors, you bring in your poinsettia immediately. Also, refrain from over watering or placing it near radiators. On the other hand, if the temperature is too cold, the plant can get gray mold on the stem or in the soil. To prevent mold formation, ensure that you maintain proper temperature and also facilitate proper air circulation. Poinsettias are also prone to mildew and stem rot when the foliage becomes too thick. Hence, prune the foliage to prevent these diseases. (See Reference 1)
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