Is your poinsettia still sitting in the window, its pot wrapped in red foil, looking a bit forlorn? Good! Now you can try your hand at keeping it and trying to get it to bloom again next year. We hope you got your poinsettia at our Salt Lake City garden nursery this past season, but even if you didn't, the experts at Millcreek Gardens want to share our advice with you for making your poinsettia last.
Poinsettias are beloved plants popular during the Christmas season for their large, cheerful red blooms. Although they originate from the warm climates of Mexico and Central America (in fact, they grow wild there), they're hardy enough to withstand shipping and display in grocery stores, department stores and plant shops in Salt Lake City and throughout the entire U.S.
They enjoy a cool, yet humid, environment (exactly the opposite of Utah). They like light, but prefer indirect light. You must keep them moist, but not too moist, or they'll get root rot.
At this point, you're probably wondering how plants that like humidity but not heat and precise levels of light and water don't die shortly after you get them home. The truth is that poinsettias thrive in optimal conditions, but easily survive a challenge. In fact, you could get a nice poinsettia a week or so before Christmas and do absolutely nothing for its care and keeping and it would look pretty good the whole time.
Regardless of how careful you dote on this lovely plant, however, its blooms will eventually fade and its bracts (they're not truly petals) will fall. At this time, you can trim off what's left of the flowers and enjoy the greenery. Maybe even change the paper on the pot to a fresh, new color.
Once the weather warms up (50 degrees-plus), you can turn your poinsettia into an outdoor plant. You can plant poinsettias in the ground, but Salt Lake City is not the best place for this, so leaving yours in its pot is a better idea. Adding some fertilizer at this time makes your poinsettia happier as well.
In the summer, you can prune and repot your poinsettia, but come fall, you must bring it indoors to encourage it to go into dormancy for at least eight weeks. During this time, it must have at least 14 hours of total darkness per day. If it is disturbed by even the tiniest amount of light, it can affect its color come Christmas.
As you can see, it's much easier to throw away your poinsettia and buy a new one at our Salt Lake City garden nursery next season. But for some gardeners, overwintering a poinsettia and getting it to bloom again is a labor of love and a point of pride. If it's not for you, we'll be happy to offer you a stunning selection of all colors and styles of poinsettias next holiday season.
For more tips on how to care for outdoor plants or for helpful hacks for gardening indoors, call or stop by Millcreek Gardens and talk to our friendly professionals. We love giving advice!