It's Christmastime, which means you're likely to fill your home with cheerful holiday decor—poinsettia plants included.
Did you know that with proper care, you can re-bloom those same red flowers in time for next Christmas?
While caring for poinsettias during the holidays (and even shortly thereafter) takes practically no effort, the process in the months that follow can be intimidating. But stick to this simple six-step process, and we guarantee your poinsettia plants will re-bloom next year.
1) DECEMBER - MARCH: BASIC CARE
Once you bring your poinsettia plants home, water them often—whenever the leaves are dry. Give them as much direct sunlight as possible, and maintain the surrounding temperature between 65 to 75 degrees during the day. The key things to remember are to keep the plant hydrated and to make sure the water drains from the pot, as too much can cause the flower to wilt.
2) APRIL - MAY: DECREASE WATERING AND BEGIN CUTTING
The instructions post-March are not quite as simple. Come April, decrease watering consistency by watering only when the soil is dry. After two weeks, move the plant to a cool area of around 60 degrees. The plant will stay in this space (like a heated garage) until mid-May.
By this time, the flower will be ready to place back into the brightest, sunniest window you have. Make sure to cut the flower's stem about four inches and repot with new soil in a bigger container before you move it to its sunny new home. Keep the flower happy at its resting temperature (65 to 75 degrees), continually watering when the soil gets dry. As you see the flower start to grow, start adding fertilizer every two weeks.
3) JUNE - EARLY AUGUST: MOVE OUTSIDE AND CUT
In June, the plant will be ready to move outside. Keep it safe in a partially shady location as you continue to water and maintain your two-week fertilizing schedule.
In July, cut each stem to allow for more stalky and firm plants, which you will see by mid-August.
4) MID-AUGUST - SEPTEMBER: PINCH AND MOVE INSIDE
In mid-August, the plant will have branched out and you will again trim two to three inches off the stems, leaving 3 or 4 leaves on each. At this point, you should bring the plant back in front of your brightest window and continue your watering/fertilizing schedule through September.
5) OCTOBER - THANKSGIVING: THE DARKNESS DIET
Here is where the poinsettia will challenge your determination. Beginning October 1st, they will need 12 hours or more of total darkness a day for about 10 weeks. This requires some attentiveness on your part, as any exposure to light at this stage will compromise blooming. Each day, you will have to keep your plant in complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Closets are the first thing we think of, but will not work if you plan to open or close those closet doors during their darkness period. At 8 a.m., you'll place the plant back in a sunny window and continue watering and fertilizing. This process will continue through the first three weeks of November.
6) THANKSGIVING - CHRISTMAS: BACK TO BASIC CARE!
After Thanksgiving (the perfect time to begin getting excited about Christmas), you'll be able to keep the plant (hopefully with flower buds by now) in its sunny window full time.
Stop watering and fertilizing around December 15th, and repeat pre-March care until you can start the process all over again for next year!
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.