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Making my Poinsettia Flower 27/08/2020

It is a beautiful summer’s day as I write, the sun is shining and our garden centre is full of colourful summer plants, hanging baskets and tubs flowering beautifully, so you may think this is a strange time of year to be telling you about poinsettias.

We received our poinsettia rooted cuttings from specialist growers and they were potted into Levington Compost.  Poinsettia is a very demanding crop; a good plant takes up to all of six months to produce. Interestingly our plants started life in Kenya or Turkey where the clean mother stock is produced. Cuttings from these plants are sent to Germany for rooting, then finally to us to grow on for Christmas.

How to flower again next year

Come the autumn, many people ask “How can I make my poinsettia flower again this Christmas? I have an excellent plant with lots of bright green foliage but no sign of any buds”. Well, sadly autumn is too late to do anything about it!

Poinsettia is not easy to bring into flower a second year, but if you have succeeded in keeping your plant growing until now and it looks pretty healthy, it is well worth having a go. Now is the time to start the flowering process.

First of all, cut back any long shoots to about four leaves past the main stem, remove any weak growth completely. Re-pot into a slightly larger pot using Levington Compost. Poinsettias are very prone to whitefly attack and whitefly is extremely difficult to control.  If any are seen, spray with Bug Clear Ultra, which has a chemical that is systemic and absorbed by the plant rendering the sap poisonous to sap sucking insects. Feed with Micacle Gro liquid fertiliser, half strength every time you water.

Poinsettia plants grow vigorously and need lots of feed. Place in full light but not direct sun. Remove any weak shoots, keeping only up to five strong shoots to flower.

Poinsettias are very sensitive to day length and will only flower when they receive in excess of thirteen hours of darkness. Come mid-September, place your plant in a room that you do not use and never put the light on.  Draw the curtains and close the doors at night, so there is no artificial light that will reduce the flowering potential of the plant but give it as much light as possible during daylight hours.

Keep feed going at half strength but change to a high potash fertiliser, such as Tomorite. To encourage bud formation in October, maintain room temperature at 65o to 70oF to keep the plant growing. By December, you should have small flowers being produced and the red bracts appearing.  Move to the living room when the bracts are fully developed mid-December. (Bracts being the leaves nearest the flowers that the plant makes red to attract pollinators).

I know it is much easier to come to the garden centre and buy one that I have grown but the joy and satisfaction of getting the plant to flower for a second year is something that only those who are successful can appreciate.

Happy Christmas!! 

Tip from Brian

Summer is here; give your houseplants a holiday by arranging them outside in a sheltered corner of the patio out of direct sunlight.  They will certainly benefit, it is also the best time to do any re-potting that is required and, of course, don’t forget to give them a liquid feed when watering. We use Miracle Gro.