Caring for a poinsettia after Christmas

If cared for correctly, poinsettias can rebloom the following Christmas. Ashley Miller/Daily

For homeowners who love poinsettias a question arises when the holiday season ends: should it be kept or trashed? According to Peter Weber, of Weber’s Nursery in Winchester, keeping a poinsettia after the Christmas season is possible, it just needs a little bit of tender loving care.

These classic holiday planets are known for their brightly colored leaves. Kept in an ideal environment, poinsettias hold their color for months. For homeowners who are up to the challenge, with the proper care, a poinsettia can rebloom just in time for next Christmas.

“For now you care for a poinsettia just you would care for a houseplant,” Weber said. “But they do prefer a good amount of light.”

Weber also said to keep it well watered and fertilized, or it will begin to loose its leaves.

Here’s what to do: cut the plant back 4 to 6 inches tall and replant it into a slightly larger pot with good drainage. Add new potting soil to fill in any extra space. Keep the soil moist. Provide bright light. And feed it weekly.

Every couple of weeks from spring until early fall, pinch back any growing shoots, and leave roughly five leaves per stem. Then allow the stems to grow on their own.

Before the first frost, bring the poinsettia into the house. At this stage the plant needs 14 hours of complete darkness for about six weeks to allow the flower buds to set. Without this time blooming will not occur.

An old wives tale suggests putting the poinsettia in a broom closet for total darkness.

“They need shorter days to trigger blooming,” Weber said. “This is where the closet idea comes from.”

After the six-week period is over, the blooms at the top of the plant should start showing signs of color. When they do, sitting in the corner of the broom closet is no longer necessary.

Some poinsettias will rebloom more vivid than others. This is normal.