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Some fun facts about poinsettias and tips on getting them to rebloom!

Poinsettias can be kept from year to year but be forewarned they can get pretty big!

Just treat them as any other bright light houseplant.

They will enjoy being outside in full to part sun over summer. My recomendation to home gardeners is partial or half day sun. This will keep them from developing thick skin on their leaves that will make it hard for them to process sunlight when you bring them back indoors in the fall.

August is a great time to hedge them back some to make them nice and full while there's still some growing season outdoors. With the larger plants you can snip as much as 6-8" off the stems to encouage new growth and side shoots. The more shoots that break the more blooms you'll get. It's a good time to give them a shot of your favorite water soluble fertilizer. This will help the new shoots devlop and give the plant a nice rich green color.
Now that we've got them branching and healthy here's the "tricky" part

Getting them to bloom------

It's not as complicated as most people think.
The easiest rule of thumb is "follow the sun".
If it's getting dark at 7pm let them have darkness at 7pm :) As the days shorten just follow the sun as a guide for daylength :)
Poinsettias, like mums, respond to short days.
Flower initiation occurs sometime between late September and mid October. When you bring them inside in the fall put them in a room that you don't use in the evening. This way no stray light will make them think that it's still summer. A big cardboard box will do the trick also. Just put it over the plant at sunset each day. If you put them in that room that's dark in the evenings make sure no streetlights or other stray light comes in. A little light is ok but eeven a reading lamp will throw them off and cause them not to flower. Once small veins of color start to appear they will bloom regardless of light conditions.

Here on the range if I need to go into the greenhouses during initiation I carry only a flashlight. Typically I go "lights out" at night from Sept. 20th until I see color showing usually by Oct. 20th.

Some other interesting facts about poinsettias :)

They originally came from Mexico where they are a BIG tropical woody shrub often growing as high as the rooftops! In the late 1800's a horticulturist, Joel Poinsett, noticed the beautiful red flowered shrubs blooming at Christmas and brought some cuttings back to the US with him. He spent several years playing with them and introduced them as a blooming potted plant for the holidays. To this day and well into the future the plants that bear his name will continue to brighten our holidays!

Are they poisonous?
Simply put, No.
Being a member of the Euphorbia genus (Euphorbia pulcherima), (If you speak latin you got a smile out of that :) In case you don't, it simply means "beautiful euphorbia" :)) At any rate :) Being a member of that genus it was thought for many years that they were toxic since many Euphorbias are. Not so with the poinsettia. Some years ago the SAF (society of American florists) did conclusive testing on poinsettias and found that, though sticky, the white milky sap of the poinsettia is not toxic to people or pets :)

All poinsettia varieties grown today are patented by the breeders who maintain the mother stock.
The breeders have made many attempts to come up with new colors over the years. Red is still the most popular. White, pink, and bi-colors like marbles fill out the rest of the market. Over the years some "mutants" have popped up like a "yellow" called lemon drop. It was really more of a washed out dark cream color and not a true yellow. It was also extremly difficult to grow to a decent size and even when pinched did NOT want to branch well :) The current "mutant" trend is a crinkly leaf camper called winter rose. Often touted as a dahlia or "rose" flowered poinsettia it is also extremly slow growing, nearly impossible to get to branch, and very dwarf in habit. These charchteristics make it an expensive plant to grow, thus it will often be priced higher at retail than other varities. Poinsettias are an expensive crop to grow to begin with taking nearly 5 months of intensive labor to grow a quality crop! Funke's customers have reported back to me that our poinsettias are often still in color and healthy well into April while their discount store plant barely made it to January. The difference? quality. Evereything about the the plants grown for the chain stores is bottom of the line from the get go. Pot, soil mix, cuttings, growing conditions, all targeted to shoot cheap color to the mass marketers who could care less if their material performs well in your home, business or sanctuary.

Sorry, I couldn't resist a dig at the chains :)
I just hate to see them attempt to ruin a market they know nothing about.
After all, my parents rasied me to be honest :)

Webmaster :)