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Past Articles Library | 2 Unique Ways to Grow Poinsettias

u may be surprised to know that there are a couple of unique ways to grow poinsettias beyond the traditional tabletop container.  One, is in a hanging basket and the second, is as a tree.  Yes, I said a tree.  Below are the directions for growing both unique ways but for both techniques you will need a poinsettia that you kept or will keep from this year.

To begin the process, we first must talk about how to care over your poinsettia from this year to the next.  The process is really easy.  You just continue to take care of it as you did when you bought it.  This means to monitor the soil moisture.  Poinsettias like a moist soil but not dripping wet.  If you want to keep the bract color, do not place the plant in direct sunlight but if you are done with the color then you can place in a location that receives direct sunlight.  While you may want to put your plant on a windowsill, be careful that the leaves do not touch the window. 

Beyond this care, keep the indoor temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once your local frost free date has passed, you can place your poinsettia outside.

Growing in a Hanging Basket

When it comes to growing a poinsettia as a hanging plant, the first thing you will need to do is to prepare the hanging basket.  As far as the type of hanging basket you use, you can use either the standard or one with pockets.  Once you have your hanging basket selected, the next step is to clean and sterilize the container.  To do this, one will need to fill a sink or bucket with water and a capful of bleach.  If the hanger is still on the hanging basket, remove and submerge the basket into the bleach water.  Scrub to remove dirt and soak for a few minutes.  Rinse the hanging basket in clear water and allow to dry in the open air.

After the container has dried, place drainage material in the bottom.  This drainage material can be as simple as a paper coffee filter to pot shards.  Next, fill with a good quality all-purpose potting soil.

Once the container is filled, the next step is to take cuttings from your existing poinsettia plant(s).  The cuttings will need to be about 6 ½ inches long.  The cut needs to be made at an angle.  After that is done, remove the lower leaves and dip the cutting in a rooting hormone.  Using a pencil, create a hole for the cutting.  Put the cutting in this hole and push the soil around the cutting.  Continue with this process until you have made 4 to 6 cuttings. 

Place the hanger back on the hanging basket and hang.  If you are doing several, make sure that they are not touching.  Water the cuttings in.

After the cuttings have grown about 2 inches, pinch off the cuttings so that they remain the 6 ½ inches in height.  This will encourage the plants to form side branches and fill in the hanging basket.

If you are using a hanging basket with “pockets,” the process is the same except when it comes to watering.  Be careful to not water too hard until the cuttings in the “pockets” take root.  This will allow you to keep the soil in the container.  Once the cuttings have rooted, the roots will hold the soil in the pot. 

Growing as a Poinsettia Tree

When it comes to growing poinsettias as trees, you must be prepared for some work.  The first thing you need to do is to select plants that have strong stems, which are required to hold the plant up.  Second, you will need time to develop the tree.

To begin this process, starts off with cleaning and sterilizing several 6 inch pots.  Once they have been cleaned as described above, place drainage material in the bottom and fill with a good all-purpose potting soil medium.  Next, place 6 inch cutting into the pot as described above.  Put the pots in a warm, humid area that receives bright sunlight.  To keep the plant growing straight, place a stake in each container and loosely tie the poinsettia cutting to the stake. 

Rotate the pots to keep the growth even.  To check the root development of your poinsettia(s), gently remove them from their container.  Transplant those whose roots are beginning to encircle the container.  The size of the container that you transplant into will depend on the size of poinsettia tree you want to produce.  A small tree will need an 8 to 10 inch pot while larger trees will need a 12 inch container.  Place in a sunny location.

Starting in September, begin to remove any lower branches that are 2 inches long.  Make sure to leave at least 10 bracts on top.  To encourage branching in the top, pinch the first ½ inch off each bract.

Continue to monitor soil moisture and keep the plants in the bright sun.  The second pinch should occur 4 weeks after the first.  The third pinching should occur 4 weeks after the second and 2 to 3 weeks prior to forcing the leaf color.

In the fall, feed your poinsettia plant with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.

Regardless of which way you decide to display your poinsettias, you will want the leaves to change color or produce what is mistaken for blooms.  To do this, you will first need to set up a 12 hour cycle.  What this means is your poinsettias will need to be exposed to 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of complete darkness.  Any deviation from this will delay the “blooming” of your poinsettia.

In the summer months, monitor the soil moisture of your poinsettia and feed your plant a fertilizer that is high in ammonium nitrate, calcium, and magnesium.  Be careful not to build up soluble salts, which can be seen as a white line on the inside of the pot.  If you see this evidence, back off on the fertilizing and flush out the salts with water.


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