- Happy New Year!
Being a big gardener I also have my indoor houseplants to keep my fingers in the dirt during these long winter months. For years I wondered what to do with the poinsettias I either bought or someone gave me. They are nice to look at and they will get really big, but the thing that attracts me, and most buyers of these plants, are the lovely colored leaves.
For years I tried everything to get them to turn again. I did all the ‘put them in the dark’ theories. Complete dark for 14 hours, in a closet, in a plastic bag; nothing worked.
Then one day I thought, these are tropical plants and it doesn’t get stay that dark in the tropics. That is when I decided to do some good research. I actually went to my organic gardening book that I’ve had for years. (Why I didn’t think of that earlier?) There is where I finally found my answer. I now get my plants to change and bloom.
In the spring when it gets to be about 40 to 50 degrees at night, I prepare my plants to be put outside. First, I repot the plant in all new soil. Next, I cut them down to about 2-3 inches tall. Most times they will not have any leaves. Sometimes they do put out new growth but if it’s not at the 3 inch mark it gets hacked off. Don’t worry, they will start to put out new growth in due time. Then I take the plant, pot and all, and stick it out in the sunniest place in my yard. Slowly new growth will start to emerge.
In the fall when it’s starts to get cold, about 40 degrees at night, the plants should come in for the winter. By this time, the plants will be nice and bushy. I put them in the sunniest, warmest window in the house. If there is a greenhouse or greenhouse window that is a perfect place.
Slowly the leaves will start to turn and the plant will bloom. By Christmas there should be a nice, colorful poinsettia sitting in the house.
Now here are some of the things I have learned. I add systemic fertilizer/ insecticide. These are the type made for roses. The plants are prone to spider mites and I would lose the entire plant. The fertilizer also helps strengthen the plant and makes it bushier. I add it at the initial repotting and continue as directed on the package.
The other thing I learned, if there is not a really sunny window it will only turn a little, they won’t look like the greenhouse types. They need that bright direct sunshine. I put mine in the sunniest window I have and when it is really colorful I will move it to a more central window so I can enjoy it’s color.
That is the trick. Dark closets indeed!