Poinsettias are great house plants to grow and care for. The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a native of Mexico, and is one of the most popular of Christmas-blooming plants. It is very unique looking plant that is suitable for cultivating for winter display but it requires different care from that recommended for the succulent kinds of Euphorbia.
The poinsettia is popular for garden decoration in the South. There it may be planted outdoors and will grow into a large, shapely bush which produces very handsome heads of red, pink or creamy white bracts. In one form, the so-called “doubled-flowered Poinsettia,” the bracts are much more numerous than in ordinary kinds and remain attractive much longer.
Propagation of Poinsettias
Poinsettias are propagated by taking cuttings of young shoots and planting them in sand. After they are inserted in the sand, the cuttings are well watered and placed in a warm, humid, shaded greenhouse. Within a few weeks the Poinsettia cuttings will form a mass of healthy roots. They are then planted individually in small pots of sandy soil.
In colder climates the Poinsettia is more familiar as a single-stemmed house plant with a single head of bracts which are in full beauty at Christmas time, making it the popular plant that it is. It is one of the florist most popular pot plants. Sometimes plants are grown with more than one branch, but the flower heads are then usually smaller than on single-stemmed specimens.
After flowering, the plants should be cut back part way and kept dry and in a temperature of 50-55 degrees for several weeks. In May they are pruned to within 6” to 8” of the soil and are started into growth again by being watered and kept in a warm, sunny greenhouse with a minimum temperature of 65-70 degrees.
As soon as they are rooted, the plants are potted and placed on the greenhouse bench in a minimum temperature of 60 degrees. They are repotted as required until they are in pots 6-7” in diameter, or they may have several planted together in a pans. The soil should consist of fibrous loam, three parts, and one part of equal proportions of dried cow manure, leaf mold, and sand.
When the plants are well rooted in their final pots the greenhouse must be ventilated more freely and the atmosphere should be kept drier than during the early part of the growing season. Weekly fertilizing with dilute liquid fertilizer from the time the pots or pans are well filled with roots until the bracts are well developed and the tiny yellow flowers begin to open is conducive to good growth.
A minimum temperature of 60 degrees is required. Poinsettias resent drafts and are easily damaged by spraying with insecticides. They need short days and long nights to bloom. Light at night prevents flowering and the formation of bracts.