Poinsettias are Perfect for Hawaii
If you've come from the mainland, you are probably conditioned to consider the beautiful holiday plant to be disposable. Many intrepid green-thumb types will try to go through the machinations to try to preserve their Poinsettias until the next Christmas. Most fail.
In Hawaii, we have the advantage of living in a climate similar to the Poinsettia's native Mexico. You may notice large bush-like Poinsettias lining the landscape around our island which seems strange if you only know the little potted fellows from mainland past.
While we do have the climate to make your Poinsettia comfortable year after year, it's still not quite as easy as sticking it in the ground, especially on this side of the island.
UH Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources offers some tips. The following comes from the Malamalama Magazine of the University of Hawaii.
- By March, if not sooner, move the plants outside to a spot where they will receive indirect light. Water enough to keep the plant from wilting but don’t keep the soil soaking wet all the time.
- In late March or April, cut the plant back to within 5–6 inches of the growing medium, reduce the amount of watering, and move it to a sunny location. When new growth emerges, fertilize with a complete, balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16; controlled-release formulations are preferred.
- When the plant has outgrown the pot—usually about mid-May—repot or transplant it to the ground. Use a standard potting mix, and continue fertilizing monthly.
- For a fuller plant, pinch back new growth about 4–6 weeks after it first appears, leaving four to six leaves on the stem. Continue to pinch the top two or three leaves every six weeks until September. Do not prune after Sept. 1 or around the time of repotting.
- The colorful bracts form only when the nights are long and dark. Keep the plants completely away from streetlights or house lights. Otherwise, put the poinsettia in an unlighted room or closet for at least 12 hours, returning them outside during the day. Depending on the variety you are growing, you should begin to see colored bracts in 6–9 weeks.
- Continue monthly applications of fertilizer until the true flowers develop. The plant no longer needs to be kept in the dark or be fertilized once the true flowers appear.
Cover photo courtesy nalinratphi/freedigitalphotos.net