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When and How to Transplant Poinsettias

December 11th, 2013 Gardening

Whether receiving a poinsettia as a gift from a co-worker or buying one yourself while shopping for a wreath, these leafy plants add color and vibrancy to the drab winter weather during the holidays.

Often used for Christmas-themed flower arrangements, poinsettias are botanically known as members of the Euphorbiaceae, or Spurge, family of flora. According to The Poinsettia Pages, they're also popular in South American nations such as Mexico and Guatemala, and are more closely associated with Easter than the Yuletide in Spain - literally called "Flor de Pascua," which means "Easter flower."

Some people opt to throw their poinsettias away once they start to wither after the holidays, but there are a few simple tips people can follow to keep their poinsettias alive and ready for next Christmas.

Keep it green for next year
Prune, prune, prune. The key to keeping your poinsettia for a long time is to keep it reigned in, Organic Gardening magazine advised. Starting in March or April, you should cut each shoot down to only three or four green leaves. All of the colored leaves, or bracts, should be cut off. Then move your plant to the sunniest spot indoors. Adding kelp to the soil also gives the poinsettia nutrients, according to the magazine.

Once it's warm, you should move your poinsettia to a bright location outdoors, probably around the beginning of June. Many people keep their poinsettias in pots, so this could be as easy as moving that pot out onto your front porch, but it's important to transplant the poinsettia to a pot that's 2 to 4 inches larger.

Transplanting poinsettias into larger pots or even directly into the garden is important in order to let it grow larger. If you're planning to keep the plant for the whole year, you have to let it continue to grow naturally and not stifle it.

Move the poinsettia back indoors by mid-August to avoid temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit,  Organic Gardening recommended. In order to get the plant to flower again, you must keep it in complete darkness, either by covering it with a box or bag for 14 continuous hours a night for  eight to 10 weeks. The magazine advised people start on Oct. 1, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night.

Now you have a flower ready for next year!

More poinsettia care tips
As for watering, you should be careful not to over-water poinsettias by making sure the soil is dry before nourishing the plants. Ohio State University indicated that too much water could result in damaged roots. On the other hand, the source also noted that not enough watering could be just as harmful, so try to find a happy medium.

Most sources agree that poinsettias are best off if they're kept in temperatures less than 70 degrees during the day and warmer than 65 degrees in the evening.

In addition, you should keep in mind that contrary to a popular myth, poinsettias aren't poisonous to humans. That doesn't necessarily mean they're safe to eat, but it does mean they can be safely added to a compost pile without tainting the fertilizer.