The beauty of poinsettias is present during the Christmas season and in South Florida, it’s possible to plant the potted flowers in the outdoor garden. They can be a little tricky to grow, but with the right care, they can live to bloom on through many seasons.
One of the primary requirements for poinsettias to thrive and bloom is dark nights. They need total darkness during the autumn months. Even a little artificial light reaching them at night can delay bloom time or prevent the plant from flowering at all.
Keep holiday poinsettias in a bright, sunny location until time to plant in the spring and keep them watered. Optimal growth occurs when a poinsettia is planted in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Gardeners will need to choose a place in the garden where the plant will receive full sun for most of the day, though slightly filtered shade during the hottest part of the day is acceptable. Individuals will need to pinch back the poinsettia several times throughout the summer to nurture a robust plant with numerous flower heads. Stop pinching about mid-Aug.
It’s important to keep in mind that poinsettias are large plants and will need sufficient room to grow and spread. In their native environment, poinsettias can grow into large bushes/scraggly trees, and attain heights and widths of 10 to 15 ft. Pinching back helps limit growth.
Native to Southern Mexico, the flowers have played a role in religious ceremonies for centuries. The first clippings arrived in the U.S. in 1828 thanks to Dr. Joel Poinsett, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who sent them to his home in South Carolina. His breeding program resulted in plants with a longer bloom time.
A Mexican legend about the plant says a little girl had nothing but weeds to bring Jesus on Christmas day. When she walked into a church, the plant burst into the beautiful red plant associated with Christmas. The plant is known in Mexico as Flores de Noche Buena, meaning flowers of the holy night.
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