Ben Matthews, Grower, Heartland Growers
Poinsettias are propagated from cuttings from a stock plant (mother plant). Most people are surprised to learn that poinsettias are propagated in June or July. That’s right, your beautiful holiday poinsettia was started form just a cutting with a few leaves when you were enjoying those hot summer days by the pool or having a barbeque.
After the poinsettia cuttings are propagated (they now have roots), they are actively growing through the rest of the summer and early fall. At this point they remain green. Growers at Heartland Growers take great pride in growing all of our crops. We closely monitor poinsettias to ensure pests and diseases do not negatively impact the plants. We track our growth several times per week and monitor nutrition to make sure we are on target for a beautiful crop of poinsettias.
Poinsettias are photoperiodic, meaning they respond to changes in day length. As the days become shorter and the nights longer, the poinsettias will initiate. This means they will start to go through the process of changing color and flowering. The beautiful red, white, pink, or combination of these colors are not the flowers, but referred to as bracts. A bract is a modified leaf. The actual flowers of poinsettias are quite small, yellow, and referred to cyathia. Poinsettias begin to change color as early as mid-October and are usually in full color around Thanksgiving. The greenhouses are truly beautiful this time of year!
A lot of hard work goes into growing poinsettias, but they are not difficult to care for. Most importantly, poinsettias are sensitive to cold temperatures, so be sure that your poinsettia is well protected when transporting it home in cold weather. When you get your poinsettia home, remove the sleeve or bag that was protecting it and place in a well-lit area. Some direct sunlight is ideal, but bright, indirect light will be sufficient too. Keep the plant away from cold drafty areas as well as hot, dry areas. Try to keep poinsettias evenly moist. As the top of the soil begins to turn light brown, it is a good time to water it. The poinsettia is not actively growing at this time, so fertilizing is not critical. For longevity, fertilizer can be applied every couple of weeks at the recommended amount for indoor plants. By following these guidelines, your poinsettia can stay beautiful well beyond Christmas!
Also, contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic. Of course it is not recommended to consume poinsettias!