I Rejuvenate the Old Plant

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Have you ever kept a Christmas poinsettia, wondering what to do with the almost leafless stalks?

The plant can be saved, and it will bloom another year.

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Toward the end of January water, it only about once a week, once every 2 weeks, then once every three weeks.

Give it none at all during March, April, and May.

Start Cutting From The Old Christmas Poinsettia Plant

In late May or early June (when the danger of frost is over), cut back the stalks to 5″ to 8″ inches and set the plant in the garden (pot and all) in a partly shaded spot where it will receive several hours of direct sunlight a day.

Mine goes under a dogwood tree where it receives morning sunlight until about 11 and spattered sunlight from then until late afternoon.

If you live where there are hot, drying winds, protect your poinsettias.

Keep Poinsettia Potted

Be sure to keep the poinsettia in the pot with the pot buried up to the rim.

If you take the plants out of their pots, the roots grow so rampantly that it is almost impossible to dig up and repot the plants in the fall without tearing them.

When setting the plant outdoors, dig out some dry earth around the stalks and replace it with one-half to one cup of compost (rough or screened), and add 2 to 3 teaspoons of bonemeal (depending on the size of the plant).

Water Completely

Water thoroughly and see that the soil in the pot does not dry out during the summer.

If it is mulched with peat moss, pine needles, buckwheat hulls, or other mulching material, it should not need watering more often than a well-cared-for perennial garden needs watering; that is, every week or ten days, depending on the weather.

Toward the end of June, your poinsettia should begin sending out new shoots along the stems.

You can take off one or two of these and start new plants (although this usually cuts down the bloom on your larger plant).

Make the cutting of four or five inches of new growth, taken off just below a node.

Starting The Poinsettia Cutting 

Peel off the bottom two leaves. Dip the end lightly in a rooting hormone powder and touch up the two nodes: (where leaves were taken off).

Insert the lower 2″ inches of the stem in a shady spot in fluffy sandy soil containing compost or peat moss.

Cover each cutting with a jelly tumbler or glass jar large enough, so none of the leaves touch the sides of the glass.

Cuttings should remain undisturbed and kept shaded and damp at all times, although you might lift the glass once in a while to see that all is green and alive.

When cuttings send out new leaves, you can be almost certain that they have developed enough roots to be potted “on their own.” (With some plant material, however, this isn’t true.)

Potting Mixture 

Use a fluffy potting mixture of about three parts sandy loam and two parts compost screened together with a little rotted manure.

Add about 1/4-teaspoon per three-inch pot (about the size needed for new cuttings). Lift new plants carefully and set them into pots.

Water, and sink them immediately in the ground in the shade.

When thoroughly established, they can be moved to a sunnier location for a few weeks before moving indoors. Do not let them dry out!

Sometime during the first week of September, dig up your pot or pots, wash them off and bring them indoors before you fear a frost.

On warm September nights, they can be left on the porch or some other protected spot to get them used to “being in captivity” again.

Indoors, they should be placed in a sunny window away from drafts. Sudden chills in a warm house make their leaves turn yellow and drop off.

Indoor Poinsettias

Poinsettias like the kind of indoor air that is good for people. They like a temperature of around 70° degrees Fahrenheit, with good humidity.

Some say the night temperature should not drop below 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

Still, my poinsettia comes into bloom in a south window where the temperature frequently drops to 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

Last year, it started blooming before Christmas and lasted into February.

About every 2 years, a poinsettia needs repotting. Do this in June before setting it into the ground.

Use a sandy loam mixed with plenty of compost and a little bone meal.

For large plants, I use compost more or less in the rough, well-mixed soil. Plants love it!

Obtain Blossoms Before Frost

Does it all sound complicated?

For new gardeners, making cuttings might be, but merely carrying over a plant from one year to the next is simple if you think about it and use common sense.

It is fun to achieve blossoms a second and third time.

The important things are to give the poinsettia a resting period (withhold water after the flowers have dropped) from March to May, to cut down the stalks, sink the pot and all in the ground in a partially shaded place and keep it watered when it starts to grow.

In the fall, bring it indoors before frost, give it as much sun indoors as possible and keep it out of drafts.

Avoid artificial light after sundown from October 1st until the flower bracts are well colored.

Oh yes, and plenty of water as it comes into bloom. Like most plants at that time, it gets very thirsty.

44659 by Emily Seaber Parcher