Garden Rows

Tuesday, July 19

Poinsettia Propagation

I have always thought it would be nice to have a poinsettia, but I thought they were difficult to care for so I just let it go.  Toward the end of the holiday season of 2009 my husband brought home a spindly poinsettia.  He saved it from an impeding future in the dumpster.  It was one of those situations that would be great if the plant survived, but no big loss if it died, since it was free and all.

Here I was with a puny little poinsettia and had no idea what to do, just happy to have the chance to try to keep it alive.  It had a couple large white blossoms.  I like the white one better than the red, so I had a little extra motivation.  I looked on line for a little info and found out that my house is the kind of environment it would like.  There is really no direct sunlight in any window that I could put plants near and they like temperatures similar to people.  The only thing I could see being a problem was ever getting to see the beautiful white blooms again.

By the time the summer came around it was a happy plant, it just needed some tlc.  I put it outside and was surprised how well it did with the sun it got!  It almost seemed happier than having indirect light.  (I wish I had a picture to post from last summer.)  I pruned it a bit toward the end of the summer because it was just growing upward so much and I wanted it to grow out ward a bit, generally be fuller.  Now I know there is a better way to do things, but it was a pretty gentle pruning, so no big loss.

Since poinsettia require a very specific environment to bloom I decided to do what I could to mimic that environment.  Basically, they need a specific schedule of light and PURE darkness.  Also, the temperature needs to be in the low 50's.  I do keep the thermostat low in the winter (about 68-70), but I am not going to be a polar bear just to get my poinsettia to bloom!  I put it in the front room because it tends to be a little cooler and I did not spend much time in there in the evening, so it would be dark all night.  I read something suggesting to put a black trash bag over the plant at night or put it in a closet so that it got the required darkness.  Hmm, no closet space here! and my schedule was too variable to provide the plant with a routine of being covered for the same amount of time each night.  Some how it actually had one large, long lasting, beautiful white bloom!  I was thrilled!  It did not emerge until after Christmas, but I am ok with that, it actually bloomed.

I did some pruning research last week.  It's a good thing I did.  I would have been freaked out to do this to a happy plant with out knowing what I was doing!

It was pretty dramatic.  I read a few articles on  They said to leave two or three leaves per stalk.  Depending on how it grows over the next 6-10 months I may prune a little harder the next time.  I would like it to fill out so it does not look like an umbrella again.  As you can see, there are some new shoots popping out all over the place. (there is a bamboo plant behind it)

After pruning, I had a bunch of leafy stalks.  I hated to toss them all out so I pulled a few of the lower leaves off and poked them down into a few flower pots.  I have reason to believe this might result in some baby poinsettia plants because over the winter one of the branches got knocked off, and a few weeks after being stuck in the pot with the big plant it was a happy little plant. (can be seen in the first picture)

Some of the leaves are falling off, but the newest growth looks very happy.

The pots have been under my patio table (wire mesh) where they have gotten filtered light.  The small pot in the pictures seems to be quite happy with the arrangement, so it can stay out there.  The other pot has slightly taller shoots and looks a little more wilted.  That pot is going to come inside with the parent plant.  This will be an experiment to see if the baby plants like one environment better than the other for rooting.

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