In this article, I’ve put together a guide on when and how to repot your poinsettia and choose the right soil and fertilizer. Poinsettias are not herbaceous plants but evergreen shrubs that can grow over 13 feet tall in their native habitats, making repotting an essential part of their care.
This article teaches you the best time to repot poinsettias and the necessary preparations. I hope you find this information helpful!
- Poinsettia Characteristics:
- When and How Often to Repot Poinsettias: What Happens if You Don’t?
- What Type of Soil, Fertilizer, and Pot Size Should You Use for Repotting Poinsettias?
- Poinsettia Repotting Steps
- How Should I Prune A Poinsettia?
- Why Does My Poinsettia Wilt After Repotting? What Are The Secrets To Success?
|Another name||Christmas Flower|
|Scientific name||Euphorbia pulcherrima|
|Classification||Order Malpighiales, Family Euphorbiaceae, Genus Euphorbia|
|Size||1.6 – 6.5 feet|
|Blooming period||December – February|
|Native country||Mexico and Central America|
|Sunlight preference||Loves full sun|
|Heat tolerance||Somewhat weak|
Poinsettias are evergreen shrubs native to warm climates like Mexico and Central America. Due to their inability to withstand the harsh cold winters, they are typically kept indoors.
To ensure healthy growth, these vigorous plants require regular pruning and repotting.
When and How Often to Repot Poinsettias: What Happens if You Don’t?
First, let’s talk about the best time to repot poinsettias.
Buying poinsettias during winter is common, and you might be tempted to repot them right away, but this is actually a mistake.
Poinsettias are native to warm regions and have difficulty tolerating the cold. It’s best to wait until the warmer months of April to June to repot them.
Repotting when the temperature has risen ensures smooth growth afterward. And don’t just leave them in the same pot for several years, even if it becomes difficult to move when the pot gets bigger.
Depending on the growing environment, repot every 1-2 years is generally a good idea. If you don’t repot for many years, the roots will fill the pot, leading to root binding.
No matter how much water or fertilizer you provide, the plant won’t absorb them efficiently if the roots are bound. If left unaddressed, the leaves will start losing their color from the bottom, eventually falling off.
Poor growth can also make it difficult for flower buds to form. Even if the plant survives until the next year, it won’t turn a beautiful red color.
When the pot becomes full of roots, repotting into a new pot will encourage new leaves to grow and the plant to flourish.
While pruning and repotting may seem tedious, the tasks are quite simple, so give it a try!
However, proper preparation is essential for successful poinsettia repotting. The following section will discuss preparing soil, fertilizer, and pots for repotting.
What Type of Soil, Fertilizer, and Pot Size Should You Use for Repotting Poinsettias?
You may wonder what type of soil and pot is suitable for repotting poinsettias.
Poinsettias thrive in soil with good drainage. You can create your mix, but it’s easier to use pre-blended potting soil specifically designed for indoor plants.
However, some commercial potting soils have poor drainage and tend to clump. In that case, you can mix 10-20% soil amendments materials like perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.
Mixing slow-release granular fertilizer into the potting soil is a good idea. Since it dissolves gradually, its effects last longer and are more convenient.
For the repotting pot, choose one size larger than the current pot. Planting in a pot that’s too large can result in the roots being unable to absorb all the moisture in the soil, which can lead to root rot.
Since poinsettias grow tall, a moderately deep pot is recommended to maintain balance. I prepared an unglazed clay pot.
These pots allow moisture to evaporate from the sides, providing excellent drainage and ventilation and creating a healthy plant environment.
Unglazed clay pots often have large drainage holes, so I placed a pot bottom net to prevent soil from escaping and insects from entering.
Having a net in place is reassuring, especially when bringing poinsettias indoors during winter.
Choose a pot with multiple drainage holes at the bottom to prevent excess moisture.
Adding drainage stones to the pot improves aeration and reduces the risk of root rot. Prepare commercially available drainage stones or gravel.
You’ll need a Gardening sheet; working on this sheet makes gathering soil easier and cleaning up afterward.
Chopsticks are useful for loosening soil. They can also help remove plants from pots and pack the soil. Disposable chopsticks work just as well.
Garden scissors are available for purchase. I used them for pruning during this repotting process.
Once your tools are ready, let’s start repotting your poinsettia.
Poinsettia Repotting Steps
Here are the steps to repot poinsettias:
- Remove the poinsettia from its pot
- Choose a pot
- Clean the pot and place a pot bottom net and drainage stones
- Prepare the soil
- Plant the poinsettia
- Prune the poinsettia
Let’s go through each step.
1- Remove the poinsettia from its pot
Place the pot on a gardening sheet and remove the poinsettia. If it’s difficult to remove, loosen the pot’s inner sides with chopsticks. Surprisingly, there were hardly any roots when I removed the plant.
It seemed that an oasis seedling was directly planted into the soil. An oasis seedling is a cutting rooted in a water-absorbing sponge.
2- Choose a pot
If the roots have grown sufficiently, choose a pot one size larger than the original pot.
Although I prepared a larger pot for this purpose, there were barely any roots. In this case, it’s better to use a pot of a similar size.
Clean the pot thoroughly and place a pot bottom net. Since I’m concerned about the root condition, I added drainage stones to improve water drainage.
4- Prepare the soil
Add potting soil to the original soil. Then, mix in perlite or vermiculite for better drainage.
5- Plant the poinsettia
Plant the poinsettia in the pot, positioning it about an inch below its rim. This creates a “water space” to prevent water from spilling over the edge when watering.
Next, gently press the soil to support the poinsettia and keep it upright.
6- Prune the poinsettia
The best time to prune poinsettias is between May and June. First, trim the branches, leaving 2-3 nodes from the base. The front branch has broken off, but a new shoot has grown at a suitable height.
I decided to prune the back branch at a similar height. It seems that even with bold pruning, new shoots will grow.
How Should I Prune A Poinsettia?
Pruning a poinsettia encourages the growth of new branches, leading to a fuller and better-shaped plant. Therefore, pruning is an essential part of caring for a poinsettia.
It is recommended to prune and repot at the same time. This is because the growth of the above-ground and underground parts of the plant are interconnected.
When repotting, you may trim the roots; therefore, it’s a good idea to prune the branches as well to maintain growth balance.
If the plant has abundant foliage but a small root ball, it may struggle to support its growth, causing the plant to weaken and lose leaves.
When pruning a poinsettia, be aware that white sap will seep from the cuts. This sap can cause skin irritation, so it is advised to wear gloves when pruning.
There is no specific order for pruning and repotting; you can do either first. However, the sap can make things sticky if you prune them immediately before repotting.
It’s better to wait a few hours after pruning for the sap to stop flowing before repotting.
Now, let’s look at the pruning technique.
When pruning a poinsettia, cut the branches while leaving 1-2 leaves at the base.
As a rule, you should leave about one-third of the plant’s height. However, approximating the height is best to help the plant grow evenly.
After pruning, some branches may not have any leaves at the bottom. Don’t worry; if the temperature is adequate, new shoots will emerge.
A common mistake is to be hesitant about pruning too much and only pruning the top part of the plant.
New branches will grow from the cut areas of the poinsettia. If only the top is pruned, new shoots will emerge, and no leaves will grow from the lower part.
As a result, the plant will have an unbalanced appearance with sparse growth at the bottom.
Moreover, if you don’t prune enough, it may become difficult to cover the plant with a box for short-day treatment or move it indoors.
Even if the branches are thick and healthy, new shoots will appear within a month after a significant cut, so don’t be afraid to prune boldly.
This will generate vigorous branches from the bottom, creating a sturdy plant. Poinsettias will grow healthy with proper repotting and pruning. However, some people may struggle with growing poinsettias.
Next, I’ll share some tips for repotting poinsettias without causing them to wither or die.
Why Does My Poinsettia Wilt After Repotting? What Are The Secrets To Success?
There could be several reasons why a poinsettia wilts after repotting. In this article, we’ll introduce two common mistakes and their solutions.
Reason-1 The temperature is too low when repotting
Poinsettias are typically purchased in winter when people are likely to repot them into their preferred containers for display.
However, poinsettias are tropical plants, and repotting them during cold weather can cause the damaged roots to weaken and struggle to recover.
Wait to repot until spring when the temperature rises, ideally around late April.
If you must repot during winter or if the pot the plant came in is too small and dries out too quickly, carefully transplant it into a slightly larger pot without disturbing the root ball.
After repotting, keep the plant warm, such as your living room.
Reason-2 Damaging the roots during repotting
Poinsettia roots are delicate, and if you damage them by squeezing the root ball too tightly or excessively loosening the roots when repotting, the plant may wilt before the roots can recover.
If you’ve damaged the roots during repotting and the leaves have wilted, prune the branches thoroughly.
When there are too many leaves, water evaporates more quickly from their surfaces, making it difficult for the roots to absorb enough water.
By reducing the number of leaves through pruning, you can alleviate the strain on the roots. Addressing these two common issues can significantly reduce the chance of failure.
In conclusion, let’s summarize what we’ve learned about repotting poinsettias.
I’ve covered the tips for repotting and pruning poinsettias.
The ideal repotting period for poinsettias is spring to early summer. However, as tropical plants, they should be repotted during warmer weather.
For soil, it’s easy to use a well-draining potting mix designed for foliage plants.
When repotting, be careful not to damage the roots and fill in the soil to prevent the plant from becoming unstable.
Don’t forget to prune after repotting. Be bold and make substantial cuts.
I’ve also discussed the causes and solutions for wilting after repotting. Practice short-day treatment to keep your poinsettias red and enjoy their beautiful yearly appearance.
For more information on how to care for your poinsettias, you may find the following articles helpful: