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Follow this to rebloom poinsettias

Published: Thu, November 2, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

Q. I kept my poinsettia. It had beautiful leaves outside all summer, but didn’t bloom. What can I do?

Jill from Boardman

A. First, great job keeping it alive. For many of us, though, poinsettias barely make it to the holidays before they droop, drop leaves and end up in the garbage can. So let’s talk about the basics of keeping it alive and what we can do to get it to bloom again.

First, when you get that poinsettia in a few weeks, pledge to help keep it healthy until the holidays. Pick a plant that has tight yellow bud clusters in its center (the real flower) with crisp, brightly colored, undamaged bracts (red leaves we all think is the flower). Make sure it is not in a cold draft or hot air register in the store. That will affect its health. Wrap it with paper from the store to transport it without damage to your home. Choose a place in your home with plenty of natural light (not direct sun) and cool air not on or near any appliances that emit heat – TV, refrigerator, furnace registers. Water only when dry in your sink or tub (poke holes through the foil) and let the water drain through. Replace it into its plastic saucer. Too much water will cause root rot. Be sure to use your finger as a gauge of moisture levels before you add water.

Second, follow this holiday schedule from the University of Vermont Plant and Soil Science Department:

• New Year’s Day: Follow directions on an all-purpose plant fertilizer and water properly.

• Valentine’s Day: Check for insects and wipe all leaves (red and green) with a damp cloth. Long, leggy stems can be cut back to 5 inches.

• St. Patrick’s Day: Tidy the plant by removing dead and sickly leaves, stems and anything on soil that looks moldy. Add potting soil mix and place in a very bright interior place.

• Memorial Day: Cut branches back 2 to 3 inches (helps plant get bushy). Re-pot plant into larger container with sterile soil mix.

• Father’s Day: Move it outside for summer; place in indirect light, not full sun.

• July 4th: Trim plant again. Move into full sun. Increase fertilizer to encourage full growth.

• Labor Day: Move indoors to a spot that gets six-plus hours of direct light daily. When you see new growth beginning, cut back on fertilizer.

• Fall equinox (On or near Sept. 21): Give the plant 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness (put in closet or under a box) followed by 11 hours of bright light daily at 60 ∞F (basement). Rotate it to allow light to touch all sides.

• Thanksgiving: Discontinue short day, long night treatment. Put in sunny area that gets at least six hours of direct light. Reduce water and fertilizer.

• Christmas: Enjoy your “new” poinsettia. Then, start the cycle all over again.

I suggest keeping a picture record of the poinsettia at each of the 10 steps. For details: http://go.osu.edu/poinsettiacare

Today’s answer provided By Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Winter hours for the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic vary. Submit questions to the clinic at 330-533-5538 or drop samples off to the OSU Extension Office in Canfield.

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