Should you feed poinsettias?

Should you feed poinsettias?

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Whether or not you need to feed poinsettias depends on if you’re planning on discarding the plant at the end of the holiday season or keeping it around longer. They do make good house plants over summer with their green foliage and will bloom again if cared for correctly.

The short answer to if you should feed poinsettias is yes if you keep them after Christmas and no if you’re just keeping them over the festive period.

Just for the holiday season

If you’ve bought a healthy poinsettia from a reputable place and plan on composting it in January, then you don’t need to worry about fertilising the plant at all. Just water it when the top of the soil is dry. And make sure to drain out any excess water. Your poinsettia will last the holiday season, looking bright and colourful.

Wanting blooms the next year

Poinsettia plants that need feeding once a month until they produce the red flowers
Poinsettia plants that need feeding once a month until they produce the red flowers

If you want your poinsettia to bloom again the next winter holiday season, then you need to look after it for the whole year. Here’s the summary on when to fertilise it. Choose a fertiliser that is high in potash, that’s one with a high potassium number. A fertiliser suitable for feeding tomatoes works well for poinsettias as it’s high in potash and is what I usually use but I usually dilute the fertiliser to half-strength.

For full details on how to re-bloom your poinsettia plant, read the How to get poinsettias to turn red again? guide. You can also take cuttings from poinsettias from May onwards

In January or when new growth appears, using after a hard pruning to 10cm, apply a fertiliser once a month. Continue this through spring and summer. You can also increase the frequency of fertilising if you take the plant outdoors and it’s in its growing period.

Late September, when you’ve entered the poinsettia in its daylight/night-time period (giving it only 12 hours of daylight), reduce the amount of fertiliser that you use to feed the poinsettia.

In November, or so, colour appears on your poinsettia. Reduce the amount of fertiliser. And stop feeding poinsettias about the middle of December once they’re in bloom.

Check the soil pH level

Adding fertiliser to your plant’s soil affects its pH level. When first using the fertiliser, check the pH level of the soil to ensure it’s within the range that poinsettias like. They prefer a slightly acidic soil in the range 5.5 to 6.5. However, they can tolerate pH levels from 5.0 to 7.0. If your soil is more acidic or alkaline than this, be sure to adjust it.

You can learn more about growing poinsettias here

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