The Poinsettia, native to Mexico is a fine plant with colorful foliage of red and green. Since it bears the bright colors of Christmas, it’s also known as “Christmas Flower”. The poinsettia is a commercially viable plant and derives its name from the first minister of the United States to Mexico, Robert Poinsettia. The plant is easy to maintain and a favorite plant for interior gardening. However, the poinsettia is sensitive to the climate. It has some reservations when it comes to winter’s chilling breeze and too much exposure to it in such extreme weather conditions can be detrimental to the plant. In order to keep this plant in good shape, you need to be aware of the suitable temperature for it, else you’ll watch the plant become a shadow of its previous self which is typically luxurious, greenish and colorful. The boiling question that serves as the base for the article is:
Can Poinsettias Be Left Out in the Cold?
Well, the plant is allergic to winter and the straight answer is No.
Let’s delve into more about the plant and why the answer is on the negative side here.
The Poinsettia in its indigenous habitat can attain a height of about 10 feet with a dense bush tagging along with that imposing height. It’s typically an indoor plant and is usually sold in containers. When it starts to flourish and its spectacular leaves begin to leave their host plant, you are permitted to take it outdoors but beware of the chilling winds.
Their growth pattern in their native habitat is a little more rapid compared to any other location they may find themselves. This accelerated growth pattern causes the bulk of their colorful bracts to fall off, especially the red foliages leaving you with a thick green bush.
When you decide to move the plant outdoors, be wary of certain low temperatures. Any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is potentially fatal for the plant. At this temperature, the cold hardiness of the plant has gone beyond the tolerance level, this will then compel the leaves to fall off.
If this climatic condition endures much longer, the leaves won’t be the only problem a poinsettia owner be worried about but the entire plant. Such sustained temperatures at 50 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the entire root system of the plant to wither away and since the root system is the cornerstone of the plant, the entire plant becomes history.
This is why the poinsettia plant can’t be left out in the cold. It should only be grown indoors and brought out when it’s summertime. When you see the signs of winter, just know its time to rush it indoors if you want to salvage the glory of the plant.
What’s Next After the Plant is Indoors?
Now the plant is indoors, no thanks to winter who says she can’t stay out in the cold, that’s not all. You need to place the plant in a shaded or dark portion of your indoor space from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am within October and November. The reason is that poinsettias need an average of 14-16 dark hours for up to a minimum of 10 weeks if they need to bloom in flowers. They need the dark for flowering and you have to grant them that satisfaction.
You can also expose the plant to some ample sunlight when the sun rises or place it close to the window where the rays of sunlight can reach it indoors. You need to water it when you notice that the resident soil is getting drier. If you keep up with healthy practices like this, you would have no problems with the poinsettia plant, rather you stand to enjoy all of its colorful splendor and the beauty of indoor gardening.
On Fertilizing the Plant
It’s also ideal during this period (when the plant is indoors) to fertilize the plant, even outdoor plants with all of nature’s blessing still need fertilization to thrive, the poinsettia has been deprived of those natural perks and needs a little fertilization to match up. Fertilize the plant every two weeks when you take it out in summer using a liquid fertilizer. If you live in an area where the weather is full of surprises, then you need to provide an organic mulch for the root system, since the weather can pretty much surprise itself by extremely cold one summer night. However, you need to stop fertilizing when the plant begins to display its colorful bracts.
Some Other Things to Note
In order to keep tabs with the seasons and be conscious of when the first frost arrives so, you can hurry your dear plant indoors, you need to check with your local extension office. Checking with this office affords you the information on when the last frost left and when the new one is coming. This will then help you determine when it’s time to send your plant indoors.
As a thumb rule with the seasons and plants, you need to also wait till the normal temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not falling below 50 F during the night. You need to also watch out for weather reports about the climate in your area. Most times in summer when the plant is outdoor, weather reports might surprisingly indicate that it will get colder on a certain night, this means your plant will be spending the night with you instead of outdoors, for its own good.
The poinsettia plant is one that is sensitive to times and seasons. So weather because an integral factor when it comes to growing it. Indoors during winter and outdoors during summer while keeping up with the maintenance processes like pruning, watering, exposure to sunlight and fertilization are some of the things you need to have at the tips of your finger when growing this plant if you want to have a healthy poinsettia that will give you the thrill of indoor flowering all year round.
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