Is recycling on your list of New Year's resolutions? There may be a plant now decorating your home that can be recycled.
Many people think of the poinsettia as a throwaway plant, but with care they will bloom again next season. How do you accomplish this? First, be sure your plant is multibranched. Discard single nonbranched poinsettias.
During winter months, poinsettias like day temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Night temperatures should be from 60 to 65 degrees. The plant should be placed in a sunny window or the brightest area of a room. Do not let it touch a cold windowpane. At night, the drapes should be closed or the plant should be moved away from the window.
When the soil becomes dry to the touch, add lukewarm water to the plant. If the plant gets too dry, it will lose its leaves.
In March, side shoots often develop below the bracts. When old leaves have fallen and the bracts have faded, cut the old stems back to six inches above the soil and repot the plants with commercial potting soil. Reduce watering in proportion to foliage removed.
When frost danger ends, poinsettias may be grown outdoors in a location that's protected from wind and midday and afternoon sun. Sink the pot to the rim in well-drained soil. Rotate the pot every two weeks to break off the roots growing out of the drainage hole, and fertilize monthly with house plant fertilizer. Check water needs frequently. Between May 15 and Aug. 1, occasionally cut off the tips to get a shorter, bushier plant.
Bring the plant indoors Sept. 1 and place it in your sunniest window. Beginning Oct. 1, the plant must receive 14 consecutive hours of uninterrupted darkness each night and bright light during the day. Even a momentary use of room lights or light from outdoors can delay its bloom.
Poinsettias will begin to show full color by Thanksgiving and will bloom naturally by Christmas if all their needs are met.
-- The Garden Calendar is a service of the Douglas County Extension Service and is written this week by Master Gardener Pat Lechtenberg.