Each year I'm more and more amazed with our poinsettias. In general, poinsettias have been demoted to a cheap commodity plant used by box stores and mass-retails as nothing more than a promotion or lost leader. It's disappointing because it's such a nice plant, but also it's very costly to grow. To be truthful, nearly every grower I have talked to would rather never grow a poinsettia again in this market.
But we haven't quit, though we have cut down our number of plants. It's better to grow fewer plants better and each year we try to improve our crop. Yes, they are far more expensive than disposable promo plants, but there's no comparison. Each year, I get more and more compliment on the longevity of our plants. This year I've had people letting me know as late as June that their poinsettias are still flowering. Now June is somewhat of a rarity, but March is becoming very common for our plants. That's what makes us growers proud - a good and healthy plant.
So what if you have a poinsettia and want it to flower again the next year? It's actually not overly difficult, but it does take a bit of care. One needs to remember that a poinsettia is a "short-day" plant. That means the plant needs a short day and long night to trigger it to flower. Starting at the end of September (we use September 27th as our golden rule), a poinsettia needs a long uninterrupted night. To be more exact, at least 13 hours of darkness. Now when we say uninterrupted darkness, we really mean it. The extra light from a lighter lighting a cigarette can throw the whole cycle off. Place your poinsettia in a spare room and don't turn the lights on. It's also a good idea to put a towel under the base of the door to stop extra light. Leave it there for about six weeks or until it starts to change colour. That's really about it.
Oh, and while it's in the spare room, you still need to take care of it. Poinsettias like it moist and don't like drying out. It needs the same amount of moisture in this triggering stage as it would any other time of year. That's really about all you have to do. Christmas Cactus are the same, except those you can forget to water and let dry out during the dark period, though water once every couple of weeks makes sure it doesn't bite the dust.
So that's it. Not too hard, is it? Just keep it dark and you can enjoy your poinsettia again and again. And if you've never taken the time to get a good poinsettia and keep it healthy, why don't you give it a try? There really is nothing like it.