The poinsettia is a unique favorite plant for the holidays. Poinsettia is a typical sun-loving tropical plant from Mexico.

Poinsettias are tropical plants, and aren’t at all cold-hardy, but can survive quite well year-round outdoors.

Select a good spot where the plant will get plenty of morning sun, but has light or partial shade in the hot afternoon.

With poinsettias, you must balance its needs between water and sun. They like soil that is somewhat cool and evenly moist, so the partial shade is best. However, it’s not a wetland plant, so don’t pick a spot where water will stand or puddle. The soil should be well-drained and rich.

When outdoors you must mulch around the base of poinsettias to help retain soil moisture and keep the soil cool. It is good to fertilize once a month with liquid fertilizer if your soil is not very rich with organic matter.

Water when the soil at the base of the plant is dry to the touch. In the late fall or early winter, cut back old growth on the plants to encourage stronger new growth in the spring. If you want more flowers, pinch off terminal shoots occasionally through the spring and early summer.

It is not an easy task to grow poinsettias with their signature red holiday color.This requires them to be in total darkness for 14 to 16 hours a day. The recommended time frame for this is from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., when temperatures are cooler. The ideal nighttime temperature for flowering is between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures warmer than 70 degrees can instead cause decay.

To ensure such results you need to get the plants them indoors in the fall, and the darkness should be imposed around early October. It will make them flower in December. A closet without a heating vent is a good location to keep them in darkness, perhaps with black plastic or opaque fabric coverings. Bring them out into sunlight for at least six hours during the day.

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