Throughout the winter you will need to keep the plant indoors but keep the plant soil somewhat dry and do not fertilize until the weather warms in the spring. After the weather has begun to warm, cut off the fading bracts, leaving 40-6 inches of the stem on each branch. Begin fertilizing with a well-balanced fertilizer. I like to use the slow release fertilizers. Move the plant outdoors as soon as the danger of frost is over. A partly shady spot is best initially. Eventually you will want to plant the poinsettia in a full sun location, but give the plant a week or two to adjust to both temperature and brighter light levels.
Selecting a Planting site:
- Poinsettias should be planted in areas receiving full sun most of the day. Howe3ver, it is essential they receive no light at night (no street light or window lights) during the bud-setting period. Normally, they set flower buds in early October when nights are becoming increasingly longer.
- Poinsettias grow best in moist, well-drained soils (never wet sites). Soil pH should ideally range from 5.5 to 6.5, but it not be adjusted if between 5.0 and 7.0.
- Christmas poinsettia can be removed from its container and planted outdoors as soon as the danger of frost is over. Backfill the hole with enough soil so the plant will sit in the hole just at or slightly higher than soil level. Water thoroughly while planting to remove air pockets. Mulch around plant with organic materials avoiding touching the stems of the plant. Mulch will conserve moisture and help control weeds.
- Fertilization: Plants should be fertilized monthly, starting in May in Northeast Florida, with 2 pounds per 100 square feet of 18-6-12 or an equivalent amount of another complete fertilizer. Follow the directions on the fertilizer label. Continue monthly applications of fertilizer until September.
- Watering: Watering properly is critical for growing poinsettias. Too water will cause the loss of lower leaves. Keep soil moderately moist but never wet.
- Pruning: Poinsettias should be pruned in early spring after blooming is over and the danger of frost is gone. They should be cut back to a height of 12-18 inches from the ground unless they were caught in an unexpected frost. If there is dead material, cut back to live wood. Pinching the plant during gorw9ing season will result in a compact plant at flowering time. After four weeks or when stems are 12 inches long, new growth should be pruned – leave four leaves on each shoot. Repeat this procedure every time new growth develops until September 10. New growth aft the last pinch will usually grow to the length of 8-10 inches in the first week of October and then it will put on new flower buds.