If you plan to or already have planted outdoor Poinsettias, the beauty of these plants will continue to amaze you every winter season! They can make wonderful accent pieces or flowering hedges in landscapes, and are also often kept in containers on decks and patios or are displayed inside the home as cut flowers (if you are keeping your Poinsettias indoors, be sure to check out our last blog post that details everything you need to know for indoor Poinsettia care).
But in order to ensure your Poinsettia plants keep coming back time and time again, there are a few key tips and tricks you need to know when caring for this aesthetic plant. Lucky for you, we at Perfect Plants know a thing or two about these well known and loved Christmas season beauties! Here are some of our need-to-know tidbits on all things Poinsettia.
Poinsettia Care Outdoors
When should I plant my Poinsettia?
You should opt for planting your Poinsettias in early spring. If you have a potted Poinsettia, you can remove it from its container and plant it outdoors after the winter season.
Poinsettias should be placed in an area that is exposed to full sun for most of the day, but that will be completely dark during the night. In order for the plant to begin flowering buds, Poinsettias require an essential period of darkness each day. Poinsettias typically begin budding in October when the time changes and the nights are naturally longer. Just be sure that the area you plant your Poinsettia is out of reach from light sources such as street lights or windows that could interrupt the dark period at night—even a small amount of light during this dark period can interrupt and delay its flowering.
Poinsettias prefer moist and well-drained soils, but can still bloom in sand, muck and clay. The most important factor is ensuring that the soil is well drained, as Poinsettias will not grow in wet areas. Poinsettias grow in many soil types across the United States. They can even grow inside in a sunny window.
When planting, dig a hole that is about 1 foot wider and 6 inches deeper than the Poinsettia’s root ball. Cover the hole with an amount of soil that was similar to the plant’s previous container. Be sure to water during the planting process to eliminate air pockets. Firm the soil to avoid the plant from settling.
Fertilization is essential to Poinsettia vitality. If you don’t fertilize your Poinsettias, you can expect yellow leaves and will end up losing the lower portion of the leaves. Begin fertilizing the plants in early March if you live in a warmer climate, or early May if you live in a cooler climate. Fertilize your Poinsettias monthly with approximately 2 pounds of a complete fertilizer for every 100 square feet. Continue fertilizing monthly until October in warmer climates or September in cooler climates.
Periods of dryness for Poinsettias can be devastating, so watering your plants is imperative. Keep a close eye on the plants, and when they appear or feel dry to the touch, it’s time to water! A good rule of thumb is to also keep the soil moderately moist at all times.
Pruning your Poinsettias
After the winter season, you should prune your Poinsettias back approximately 11 to 18 inches from the ground. If your Poinsettias have been frozen below this area, they will need to be cut back completely. You should pinch the plant during growing season to promote a healthy, full plant. Without pinching, your Poinsettia will become long and wispy with few blooms.
When new growth has grown to around 12 inches in length, cut or pinch the new growth back and leave 3-4 leaves on each stem to ensure the plant’s growing process is not hindered. Repeat this process until the beginning of September.
In October, your well-cared for Poinsettias will begin to bloom and blossom and the red flowers the plant is known for will once again turn heads all winter season! When temperatures drop, move the plant or cover it with a blanket.
Let us know if you have any gardening questions about your poinsettias.