The Christmas season has come and gone, and it is now time to take down the tree and put away the holiday ornaments.

But what do we do with the poinsettias? With a little bit of diligence your poinsettia can again become the favorite holiday plant next year.

University of Vermont professor Dr. Leonard Perry has compiled a unique schedule to ensure your poinsettia will be ready to bloom by next Christmas season.

  • New Year’s Day: Fertilize with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer at recommended rates. Continue to provide adequate light and water for prolonged bloom for several weeks.

  • Valentine’s Day: Check your plant for signs of insects such as white fly. If your plant has become long and leggy, cut back to about five inches tall.

  • St. Patrick’s Day: Remove faded and dried parts of the plant. Add more soil, preferably a commercially available sterile soil mix. Keep the plant in a very bright interior location.

  • Memorial Day: Trim off two to three inches of branches to promote side branching. Repot to a larger container using a sterile growing mix.

  • Father’s Day: Move the plant outside for the summer; place in indirect light.

  • Fourth of July: Trim the plant again. Move it into full sun. Continue to water and fertilize but increase the amount to accelerate growth.

  • Labor Day: Move indoors to a spot that gets at least six hours of direct light daily, preferably more. As new growth begins, reduce the amount of fertilizer.

  • Autumnal Equinox: Starting on or near Sept. 21, give the plant 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness (put the plant in a closet, basement, or under a box) and 11 hours of bright light each day. Maintain night temperatures in the low 60-degree F range. Continue to water and fertilize. Rotate the plant daily to give all sides even light.

  • Thanksgiving: Discontinue the short day/long night treatment. Put the plant in a sunny area that gets at least six hours of direct light. Reduce water and fertilizer.

  • Christmas: Enjoy your “new” poinsettia.

The poinsettia should be cared for as a normal house plant, with regular watering throughout the year. Be sure to remove the foil wrapper around the pot so it has adequate drainage.

Fun facts

According to the 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture floriculture statistic report, poinsettias account for 23 percent of sales of all flowering potted plants, making it the highest selling potted flowering plant.

There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias that come in a wide range of colors, with red being the most popular color.

A native of southern Mexico, the wild poinsettia tropical plant can reach heights of 12 feet with leaves measuring six to eight inches across.

Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, an amateur botanist and the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico introduced the plant to this country. In 1828, he discovered a shrub with brilliantly colored red leaves growing by the side of the road in Taxco, Mexico. It wasn’t until 1960s that researchers were able to successfully breed the plants to bloom more than a few days, gaining acceptance as a holiday plant.

Sally Shearer is coordinator for the Hubbard County Master Gardener program. Information for this article was also provided by Julie Weisenhorn, a University of Minnesota Extension Educator.

With a little bit of diligence your poinsettia can again become the favorite holiday plant next year, says Hubbard County Master Gardener Sally Shearer. (Adobe Stock)