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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> House plants in Ireland, including cut flowers

Poinsettia, The Christmas Houseplant which will Bloom again

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James Kilkelly
Rank: Site Admin

Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2173
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 6:07 pm    Post subject: Poinsettia, The Christmas Houseplant which will Bloom again Reply with quote

This year, as many households sit down to their Christmas dinners, a cheery visitor from Mexico will join them.
The Mexican in question is the Mexican flame tree; however, most of us know it as the Poinsettia.
A familiar indoor Christmas decoration plant, the Poinsettias greatest asset is the blood red colour its modified leaves display during the holiday season.
These colourful leaf forms or bracts easily swamp the plants quite inconspicuous flowers.

Many people class the Poinsettia as a temporary or annual plant, which inevitably means a quick trip to the bin or compost heap after blooming.
In spite of this, many thrifty gardeners allow the Poinsettia another year to produce a second seasonal flush before disposing of it. The results achieved from this experiment can be quite satisfactory, provided you know how to look after a poinsettia plants needs.

So, if you have the time and patience follow these rules for a twice-blooming Poinsettia...

Poinsettia, photo / pic / image.

Place your newly acquired plant in a bright warm location, avoiding draughts from opening doors and other temperature fluctuations.
During its blooming period keep the plants compost damp but not wet.
After most of the Poinsettias leaves have shed, you should reduce watering and place the then unattractive plant in a cool well-ventilated area (garage).
In March, re-pot to a slightly larger container and cut back the stems to 6 inches from the top of the pot.
Because the Poinsettia belongs to the same family as the Euphorbia, it will contain the same skin and eye irritant sap.
Be aware of this as you cut into the plant, wearing protective gloves and avoiding contact with the milky white sap.
After re-potting, water well and place in a sunny window. When new growth begins, apply a water-soluble feed every two weeks as well as keeping the plant damp.
Pinch out leading growths every time the plant produces three leaves on each shoot; continue this up until mid August.

Now for the crucial period of the plants life cycle, this is from the first day of October up until the last day of November.
During this time keep your Poinsettia in complete darkness from 5pm until 8am; this shortened daylight causes the colourful bracts to form.
However, be warned, even an extra five minutes of light (natural or artificial) may prevent the plant from blooming.
Commercial growers of Poinsettias use timer controlled shutters to regulate sunlight, I suggest you use the less expensive option of a large cardboard box teamed with a black bin bag to cover the plant.
Once you get to the first day of December, there is no further need to continue light reduction. Now you must wait hopefully for the beautiful red bracts to appear.
Believe me it will be worth it.

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