Here are some steps to follow that will help your poinsettia plant become colorful year after year.
Late Winter/ Early Spring
Poinsettias have long-lasting blooms so their colorful bracts (flowers) remain showy for several months. During this time, side shoots develop below the bracts. To have a well-shaped plant the following year, cut off any old blooms that are still on the plant in February or March. Cut branches back so that they are about 4″- 5″ tall. Leave a few leaves on each of the old stems; new growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils along these stems. Keep your poinsettia in a sunny area where the temperature is between 60° – 70°F (15.6° – 21.1°C) and fertilize monthly until December. Use a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength.
Late Spring/ Summer
Between June and July prune all the stems so they are about 4″ tall, leaving 1-3 leaves on each stem. Pruning helps the plant become full and bushy and encourages more flowers at Christmas. Around August, pinch off the growing tips on the stems one more time.
Fall/ Early Winter
In order for the poinsettia bracts to turn color again, the plant must be kept in complete darkness for 12-15 hours from the end of September until color shows in the bracts in early to mid-December. The temperature should remain between 60°- 70° F (15.6°- 21.1°C). Night temperatures above 70°F (21.1°C) may delay or prevent the plant from turning color. Hopefully you’ll have a beautiful plant in time for Christmas.