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Most people keep their poinsettia for just one holiday season and then throw it away by (hopefully) composting it. However, if you decide to keep your plant around and re-bloom it in the next winter season (see How to get poinsettias to turn red again), then you can also propagate poinsettia cuttings in the early summer to create new plants, and mini poinsettias are great for making indoor planter baskets up for Christmas. Here’s how to do that.
As poinsettias are usually hybrids, they don’t have reliable seeds genetically. Taking cuttings is the best way to propagate the plants as well as the fastest way to get an established plant.
Warning: poinsettias are a member of the euphorbiacea family whose sap can irritate your skin. Wear gloves while doing this procedure or at the very least, wash your hands straight away afterwards.
Propagating poinsettias by cuttings
- In early summer (May or when new growth is appearing on your plant), remove a new shoot from the plant. Use a sharp sterilised knife to do this. Cut just above a large leaf on the plant and snip about 15cm of new growth. This is your cutting material.
- Reduce the cutting down to 10cm by cutting just below a leaf joint. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of your new cutting leaving just a couple of top leaves.
- Cut the remaining leaves in half horizontally to minimise the water loss.
- Dip the base of the cutting into hormone rooting powder or gel. Tap off the excess. This powder increases the rooting success and also helps reduce rotting off, but it’s an optional step but worth doing.
- Fill a small pot (7 to 9cm ideally) or cell tray with a standard commercial potting mix. Plant the cutting but keep the lower leaves just above the surface of the soil. I like to use a narrow cane of dibber to make a hole first.
- Push a couple of sticks (taller than the cutting) into the soil just inside the edge of the pot. Cover the cutting and pot and sticks with a plastic bag or put them into a propagator with a lid. If you use a bag, loosely secure the bag around the bottom of the pot (elastic bands work well).
- Place the cutting in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
- Wait about a month for it to root, watering when the top of the soil is dry being careful not to overwater as this will cause the cutting to rot off.
- When you notice the growth of new leaves, take away the plastic bag.
- Carry on growing the rooted cutting. Repot it when it grows enough to fill the current pot.
Once it’s growing, keep an eye out for pests and diseases that attack poinsettias. You can also read my guide on growing poinsettias here as well as how to correctly water poinsettias here and feed them here.