In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
December, 2001
Regional Report

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Locate poinsettia in a shady, humid location outdoors.

Poinsettia After the Holidays

Poinsettia brighten our homes during the holidays, but I've always found it difficult to get them to thrive afterwards, or rebloom next season. Here are some details on how to go about it if you want to try. Perhaps you'll have better luck than I do!

Care During the Year

Keep the plant in a bright location away from direct sun and heating unit drafts. Water when the top inch of soil is dry. It's a good idea to remove the foil wrap on the pot so that water doesn't accumulate. Feed monthly with a blooming plant fertilizer that has a higher middle number, such as 5-10-5.

Blooming

To induce rebloom next year, stop fertilizing at the start of September. After the fall equinox, when nights are longer than days, provide 14 to 16 hours of total darkness. Place the poinsettia in a closet or cover it with a box in a dark room. No light should reach it. During the day, let it out to play. It should receive about 8 hours of bright light. Continue watering when the top soil dries out.

The colorful bracts should start to appear in 6-8 weeks. At that point, bring the plant out of darkness and resume fertilizing. Keep away from heating sources and drafts.

Poinsettia Outdoors

If you want to plant outdoors, try to locate your poinsettia in a shady, humid location. That can be hard to find in the low desert, but a northern exposure near the house or patio, situated by other plants to provide humidity, may work. There are some very tall poinsettia plants growing near protected alcoves in some of the areas of Phoenix that receive flood irrigation, so it can be done. But poinsettias won't make it through the summer in hot, sunny locations. Good luck!


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