If you grow your new poinsettia plants from hardwood cuttings, you will find that they are easy to root and easy to grow to full, perfect flowers.
This is the way I do it:
After the blooms have faded, gradually withhold water for about a month until the soil in the pot is quite dry, and the leaves have withered and fallen from the stems.
The plant is then ready for storage in a cool, dark, dry place.
At this time, if the plant is fairly tall and unwieldy, cut back the top 5″ to 6″ inches of growth.
Instead of throwing these ends away, use them for hardwood cuttings. These cuttings will make tall plants because of their early start, but they are usable and should not be wasted.
They are potted like the hardwood cuttings taken later.
Now, to go back to the stored plant. Keep it completely dry until the middle to end of May, and then bring it to the light and begin watering.
It will take about 2 weeks for the first stem buds to begin to leaf out.
The first cuttings should be taken as soon as the new shoots are about 1″ to 2″ inches long and have developed about 5 small new leaves.
Cut straight across the old, woody original stem just below a node or leaf scar on the stem.
These pieces of hardwood stem, not counting the new shoot, should be about 5″ to 7″ inches long.
It is best to take these cuttings while the new shoot leaves are still small because the leaf surface area is smaller, and thus there is less danger of wilting.
There will also be other buds developing on the old hardwood stem that is used for the cutting.
Do not remove these until the cuttings are potted and the pots are in a safe location because the new shoots are very brittle and easily broken.
And if the top shoot should be knocked off by accident, then the next developing bud on the stem can be used for the leader or main shoot.
Cuts From Softwood
Dip the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone powder and insert close to the side of a clay pot, firming down in a mixture made of equal parts of sand, topsoil, peat or leaf mold, or compost.
Keep the newly potted cuttings out of the sun but in the light, and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
The cuttings will benefit from overhead syringing if it is convenient to spray the foliage, but this is not as essential to their survival as when softwood cuttings are made.
Continue watering and forcing the old plant until you have sufficient cuts or until all of the hardwood has been used. Then throw the roots away as they have no further use.
It is easier to root 4 or 5 cuttings in a 6- or 7-inch pot of soil mixture and then to continue to let the cuttings grow on in this same pot than root the cuttings in sand or perlite and then, when rooted, transplant them to pots.
It is entirely optional whether the new plants should be set outdoors during the remainder of the summer or kept indoors.
Much depends upon the climate and available outdoor location.
Cuttings rooted early, such as those from the first trimming, will make tall plants, so it is advisable to nip out the soft end growth when the new shoots are about one foot high.
This should never be done after mid-August, and since pinching promotes branching, the more numerous resulting flowers will be smaller than when one stem alone is grown.
Plants, especially taller ones, should be staked and tied as they are making growth because they are brittle and easily broken when not supported.
A tall stem bent by accident but not broken off can be held in place and bandaged with a splint of wood and tape should this particular stem be needed for a special effect.
Begin a weekly feeding with plant food on the first of October and continue this until the top leaves begin to color.
When these leaves begin to show a faint red veining and have a dull red blush to them.
And when the flower buds can be seen forming in the center cluster, there is nothing outside of complete neglect that will stop the further development of the bright red bracts.
Since the flower buds begin to set during the middle of October, the standard practice of shielding the tip ends from artificial light after sundown should be observed.
Do not try to move the plant to a dark closet every night as this moving back and forth is not only a nuisance but also hard on the plant.
The tops can be shielded with paper or even straw table mats, which fasten to stakes. These can be set up to shield the plants at night and be removed during the day.
It is also true that outside light shining through window glass from street lamps can hold back the coloring process, so when shielding your plants, keep outdoor light in mind.
44659 by Marion Black Williams