Perhaps one of the most traditional of all Holiday flowers is the poinsettia. The beautiful red and green plant seems to have been created specifically for the Holiday season. Despite the fact that it seems like it, they do not simply and magically crop up overnight after Thanksgiving. To get these plants looking their best, you need to begin planting poinsettias properly in the first place. In order to do that properly, simply follow these guidelines. You will be amazed at how beautiful the results you get can be, if you just take your time.
- Temperature. For the most part poinsettias are a fairly fragile type of flower that requires it be grown in a specific type of climate. For example, poinsettias can only really be grown (outdoors) in Hardiness Zones 10 through 12. This means that they will require a minimum outdoor temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and especially thrive when the overnight temperature reaches a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While they can withstand a very light frost, they do not like the cold.
- Soil. Poinsettias need to be planted in soil that has a slightly acidic content. This means that the soil should have a pH balance of around 6.5. Keep in mind that poinsettias are generally very susceptible to root diseases, so the regular gardening soil will not work. The best type of soil that you can use is going to be a lightweight potting soil that has been sterilized. In addition, you can also add a water soluble fertilizer that will release slowly over time, such as fertilizers that are 12-12-12 or 20-20-20 in composition.
- Lights. Lighting is a somewhat problematic for poinsettias. For most of the growing season poinsettias will require an average amount of sunlight. However, during the weeks that lead up to the holidays, generally time period of about six weeks, keep the plants in the dark for about 14 hours a day. Somewhere between four and six hours each day you should have direct sunlight hit each of the plants. This will help bring about the great color that we enjoy from these plants.
- General care. If you begin growing your plants indoors, never transplant them before early June as the temperature is usually too cold before that time. When the branches of the poinsettia plant reach a length of three inches, begin pinching them back so that they do not become too dense. Considering the possibility of root problems with the poinsettia, be sure that you allow the soil to completely dry out between watering.