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6 Essential Tips for Poinsettia Summer Care

Did you know that the Poinsettia, renowned for its vibrant red and green Christmas hues, actually thrives during summer too? Growing Poinsettias in the summer requires a bit of a different touch, like specific watering routines and placement considerations, but if nurtured properly, these plants will reward you with a vivid display of red and pink colors just in time for winter.

Keeping your poinsettia alive through the summer can sometimes feel like a challenge. Unforeseen issues may pop up, but with a solid understanding of the plant’s needs, you can ensure your poinsettia not only survives the summer but flourishes, ready to show off its beauty in winter.

In this article, I’ll also be sharing some cool hacks to change the leaf color just in time for the next Christmas season, so grab a pen and paper – you’ll want to take notes!

Poinsettias Love to Flourish in the Summer Sunshine!

Did you know that your poinsettias come alive during the summer? With the right care and attention during these warm months, your festive plants will not only survive but thrive through winter, showing off their true beauty.

Poinsettias, originating from tropical regions like Mexico, often do most of their growing in a single summer. These radiant plants flourish most robustly from June to October, a period you might like to call their “growth phase.” This is when they’re most physiologically active, putting all their energy into growth and development.

During this lively phase, your poinsettias will absorb a wealth of water and nutrients. It’s a transformative time when they will sprout new shoots, and you’ll notice significant changes as they grow.

If you prefer to keep your poinsettias on the smaller, more compact side, consider doing a little pruning in July or early September (keeping U.S. growing seasons in mind).

This will stimulate branching and give your plants a fuller, more lush look by the time winter rolls around. Your careful attention in the summer months will result in a vibrant and beautiful poinsettia come winter!

Perfect Placement and Prudent Watering: Your Keys to Summer Care!

Poinsettias are notoriously sensitive to overwatering, which can lead to root rot – a condition that can be fatal for these vibrant plants.

Since summer is their prime growth phase, they’ll need plenty of sunlight and water. But it isn’t as simple as just placing them under the sun and dousing them with water.

To protect your poinsettias from the midday sun’s scorching rays, which could harm their leaves, choose a location outside but in a semi-shaded area. This ensures they get just the right amount of sunshine.

Now, how do you strike the perfect balance between overwatering and underwatering your poinsettia? Here’s a simple method I use: Insert your finger into the topsoil of your poinsettia’s pot, checking about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) down. If you feel moisture, hold off on watering for a bit.

If it’s dry, go ahead and give your plant a drink. This process not only prevents overwatering and underwatering but also eliminates the need for a rigid watering schedule, making the task more flexible, relaxing, and accurate.

One thing to remember is that the topsoil shouldn’t be continuously soggy or damp. If it is, the roots will become saturated with water, so give your poinsettia a dry-out period. This will help maintain the air and oxygen levels in the root zone, benefiting your plant’s overall health.

It’s essential to water your poinsettia early in the morning or late in the evening, especially during the summer. Though you might notice your plant wilting during the hottest part of the day, resist the temptation to water it right away.

Watering during peak temperatures may seem like the right thing to do, especially when your poinsettia is wilting, but doing so can raise the soil temperature and harm the root system.

So, how much water should you give your poinsettia? I have an easy solution for you. Let the top 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) of soil dry out, then water the plant until you see moisture seeping through the bottom drainage holes.

If water is seeping through, you’ve applied enough water for your poinsettia. One final important note: your poinsettia pot must have at least one drainage hole. If it doesn’t, create one. This step is crucial to prevent waterlogging and ensure your plant’s survival.

Poinsettia Plant Enters Dormancy in Winter with Minimal Growth

The vibrant poinsettia you see during winter isn’t really a flower; it’s a plant known for its specialized, color-changing leaves. Often symbolizing the holiday season, this cheerful plant is actually quite sensitive to the cold.

As temperatures begin to drop after October, the poinsettia enters a period of dormancy, slowing its growth significantly. This means your poinsettia requires different care routines in winter and summer.

Creating the Ideal Growing Environment for Poinsettia in Summer

The first crucial step in summer poinsettia care is establishing the right growing environment. Poinsettias thrive and grow during the summer, but certain conditions, whether indoors or outdoors, are essential to remember.

For example, the intense summer heat in places like Japan can quickly harm poinsettias if they’re not positioned properly. So let’s make sure we establish the ideal environment.

Opt for a Bright Indoor Spot for Your Poinsettia

It’s best to position your poinsettia where it will receive ample indirect sunlight or mild direct sunlight, such as near a south, east, or west-facing window.

Despite originating from tropical regions, poinsettias are surprisingly susceptible to extreme heat. However, there are a couple of key factors to keep in mind when growing poinsettias indoors.

Avoid Direct Air Conditioning Drafts

Dry air from the air conditioner can impede the leaf cells’ ability to transport water and nutrients. This is why a direct air conditioning draft can cause poinsettia leaves to dry out and appear droopy.

So when positioning your poinsettia indoors, ensure that it’s out of direct airflow from your air conditioner.

Provide an Uncluttered Space to Protect the Leaves

As you’ll quickly notice, poinsettia leaves are extraordinarily delicate. Even the slightest touch can damage them, leading to discoloration that mars the plant’s appearance.

Therefore, it’s important to find a spot indoors for your poinsettia where it’s safe from kids, pets, and busy family members. A location where the plant is unlikely to be accidentally brushed or touched is ideal.

This precaution is especially critical if you’re considering placing them near a window, as a gust of wind could cause a curtain to sway and come in contact with the plant. Discolored or damaged leaves won’t rejuvenate, so keep this in mind when finding a place for your poinsettia indoors.

Direct Sunlight on Hot Days Can Lead to Bud Failure and Leaf Scorch

On hot summer days, excessive exposure to direct sunlight can lead to problems with your plants. If the temperature is particularly high, you may notice that the plant fails to produce buds or experiences bud failure. The leaves might become sunburned, losing their vibrant color and turning brown.

Extreme heat forces plants to use more water as the transpiration process accelerates. The plant uses this process to cool down, but it requires a substantial amount of water. As a result, your poinsettia may dehydrate, which can hinder its growth and development.

A dehydrated poinsettia might grow more slowly and become more susceptible to leaf scorch, affecting its appearance. Reduced water content and damaged leaves can also decrease photosynthetic activity.

On Particularly Hot Days, Make a Habit of Moving Your Poinsettia Indoors

Beware that hot summer days can cause damage to your poinsettia. When the temperature rises above 86°F (30°C) for an extended period, it’s essential to pay special attention to your plants. Consider moving your poinsettia indoors.

If your poinsettia has already been weakened by heat stress and the leaves have become sunburned, it may be time to take action to revive the plant.

While leaves scorched by the sun may not recover, proper care and time can help the rest of the plant bounce back, especially during the relentless heat of July and August. Moving your poinsettia indoors will not only give you peace of mind but also provide your plant with an opportunity to rejuvenate.

How to Grow Summer Poinsettias: Soil & Fertilizer

The third key to growing summer poinsettias is the soil and fertilizer. Soil serves as the foundation for growing the plants. If the soil isn’t right, the plants won’t grow well or become robust.

Summer is also the time for fertilizing, so it’s crucial to know the proper way to ensure healthy poinsettias.

Grow Poinsettia in Organic Content Rich Soil

I grow my poinsettias in organic, nutrient-rich soil which is a special soil made up of decomposed organic matter, such as dead leaves and chicken kitchen waste. The best part is that it’s easy to obtain!

This organic compost not only improves the soil’s aeration but also enhances its water-holding capacity and retention, making it a perfect, healthy mix for poinsettias. Sometimes, I even use my own soil blend.

If you want to create your own soil mix tailored for your poinsettias, here’s a simple and effective recipe that my poinsettias adore: Combine two parts of potting soil (preferably all-purpose), three parts of compost, and two parts of peat moss. It’s a great way to ensure your poinsettias get the perfect environment to thrive.

Now, if making your own soil mix feels like a hassle, especially for beginners, no worries! You can easily find pre-mixed soil suitable for ornamental plants and flowers at your local garden store or even online, like on Amazon.

This option will do the job just fine and still provide a fantastic growing medium for your beloved poinsettias.

Use Slow-Release Chemical Fertilizer or Diluted Liquid Fertilizer

When feeding summer poinsettias, I use slow-release chemical fertilizer or diluted liquid fertilizer. I sprinkle the slow-release chemical fertilizer onto the soil once every two months, and I give the liquid fertilizer diluted with water about once every two weeks.

The benefit of slow-release chemical fertilizer is that it works slowly with lasting effects, while liquid fertilizer is easy to apply along with watering and acts quickly.

Read the Fertilizer Instructions Carefully Before Applying

When giving fertilizer, you should read the instructions carefully. While fertilizer supports growth, if you give too much, it can cause “fertilizer burn,” where the roots lose moisture, and the nutrients can’t be absorbed.

The amount of fertilizer varies depending on the soil volume and the size of the plant, so again be sure to read the instructions and apply half of the recommended dose to be on the safe side. Then monitor the progress after each application and then apply again. 

Stop Fertilizing in October

You only need to fertilize from June to October, during the growth period. Poinsettias slow down their growth as they approach winter. Therefore, there’s no need to fertilize after October.

Troubles with Poinsettias to Watch Out for in Summer

In extreme hot weather, and if you are living in humid climate also, then your poinsettia maybe are more likely to suffer from root rot and best attack so if you know the potential problems and how to deal with them, then it will be easier for you to deal with the problem

Root Rot Leading to Wilt

In the summer, certain problems are more likely to occur with your potted plants, such as poinsettias. This is because we tend to water them more than necessary or without a specific plan, leading to potential root rot disease.

If you overwater your poinsettia, or if stagnant water accumulates in the pot, it can cause serious issues. Stagnant water forces out the air in the soil, which contains vital oxygen absorbed by the fine fibers of the poinsettia’s root system.

Once the oxygen is gone due to the soggy condition, an anaerobic environment forms. This environment is perfect for the growth of fungi and bacteria. Because of the lack of oxygen, the fine fiber-type roots begin to die, and the fungus infects and causes those roots to rot.

This rot extends towards the main root system and eventually up to the upper part of the plant. That’s why root rot is a fatal disease for your poinsettia, as it damages the entire root system.

When the root system is compromised, it doesn’t absorb any nutrients or water to keep your poinsettia alive. That’s why you might notice your poinsettia wilting, even if you are giving it enough water and taking care of it cautiously.

The roots are not supplying the essential nutrients and water needed for the plant to produce food through the photosynthesis process. 

Cut the Rotten Roots and Replant to Revive

Even if your poinsettia’s leaves and stems droop and it wilts from root rot, you can still revive it if there are healthy parts of the roots left. The way to revive it is to cut off the black, rotten roots and replant it in new soil.

By replanting in new soil, the soil’s water drainage and aeration will improve, allowing you to grow a strong poinsettia once again.

Revival May Not Be Possible If the Symptoms Have Progressed Too Far

While it’s often possible to revive a poinsettia with root rot, if the roots are completely rotten and the whole plant is weakened, revival might not be an option.

To make sure the poinsettia you’ve worked so hard to grow can bloom beautiful bracts in winter, raise it in the right environment and stay alert to any changes.

Pest Damage

In hot and humid summers, plants, including poinsettias, become susceptible to pests like spider mites and scale insects. If you find them, you can quickly minimize the damage by taking immediate action.

Spider mites, which like dry leaves, leave characteristic spots and web-like substances. Scale insects, on the other hand, look like white cotton and hide between overlapping leaves and stems.

Spider mites reproduce quickly, so if you don’t act fast, your poinsettias might wither and die. If you don’t have insecticides, diluted milk or vinegar (diluted 100 times [in water]) can be effective.

For scale insects, which may not respond to insecticides, you might need to remove them directly with a toothbrush. While doing so, make sure they don’t fall onto the soil by laying down plastic to prevent secondary damage.

You can prevent pests like spider mites with leaf watering. Leaf watering is simply wetting the leaves with a spray of water. Since spider mites are weak against water, keeping the leaves from drying out can prevent them.

If you are leaf watering, You’ll make sure to thoroughly wet the underside of the leaves. Since most pests thrive when the plant is weak and airflow is poor, managing plants in well-ventilated areas is also an effective prevention strategy.

Things to Do with Poinsettia Before Summer: Pruning and Repotting

Before summer rolls around, your poinsettia needs some care like pruning and repotting. Doing these can ensure a robust poinsettia, but be sure  not to harm the plant. 

Give Your Poinsettia a Fresh Start by Pruning Before Summer

Pruning your poinsettia is done by cutting back, a method that, if performed at the right time and in the proper manner, helps it thrive through the summer.

Prune When the Flowers Fall Around January

Make sure to prune your poinsettia when the flowers have fallen, typically around January. If you prune just before summer, the new buds may not sprout. Once all the leaves have fallen, it’s best to cut back right away.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clean pruning shears
  • Gloves
  • Make sure your pruning shears are clean. Using shears that have cut other plants might spread diseases. Wipe the shears with a disinfectant or  with an alcohol wipe to be safe. Gloves are great for preventing chapped hands.

Steps to Prune Poinsettia

  1. Choose the Right Branch: Find a healthy branch and cut just above the second node. If there are multiple shoots, only keep those that are growing outward. If you leave all the inward-growing shoots, the plant can become congested. This congestion makes the plant more vulnerable to fungal diseases and pests since there will be less ventilation.
  2. Remove Dead Leaves: Clean up the plant by taking away all dead leaves. This step not only keeps the poinsettia looking fresh but also helps prevent disease.
  3. Trim Overlapping Branches or Leaves: If any branches or leaves are overlapping, trim them back. This will help your plant maintain a beautiful and healthy shape.
  4. Mind the Growth Point: When cutting back the poinsettia, leave the growth point just below the second node. This will make it easier for new buds to grow. If you want the plant to grow larger, though, feel free to cut from a slightly higher point.
  5. Handle with Care: When cutting the poinsettia’s stem, you may notice a white sap. This sap is toxic, and direct contact may cause irritation. Always wear rubber gloves or a similar protective item to keep yourself safe.

Repotting Your Pruned Poinsettia

After pruning, it’s time to repot your poinsettia to ensure a thriving and friendly environment. Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through the best timing and tips to make the process smooth.

When to Repot: Every 1-2 Years in Spring to Early Summer

Repot your poinsettia every 1 to 2 years, ideally in the spring to early summer as the growing season begins. By doing this early in the growth period, your plant will grow smoothly.

Repotting also helps to cut off overgrown/root bound roots, creating a well-drained and aerated environment.

On the other hand, if you neglect to replant, the roots can become too extended, leading to poor drainage and stunted growth. So, make sure to replant at least once every two years.

Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A pot one size larger
  • All purpose potting mix (Combine two parts of potting soil, three parts of compost, and two parts of peat moss)
  • Drainage stones
  • Plastic sheeting

When repotting, be sure to use a pot that’s a size larger than the current one. The drainage stones will help to ensure proper water flow.

Steps to Replant

  1. Lay a Plastic Sheet in Your Work Area: Doing this keeps things clean.
  2. Place a Mesh-Like Filter on the Drainage Hole Before Adding the Stones: This prepares the pot for drainage.
  3. Fill the New Pot Halfway with Drainage Stones, Then Add Soil: This creates a strong foundation.
  4. Gently Remove the Poinsettia from the Old Pot: Carefully tease the root ball to loosen it slightly.
  5. Gently Shake Off the Soil from the Roots, and Place Them in the Center of the New Pot: This allows the roots to breathe.
  6. Add New Soil, Stopping slightly more than 1 inch (3 cm) from the Top, and Ensure There Are No Gaps: This anchors the plant securely.
  7. As You Add Soil, Shake the Plants Each Time: This helps stabilize the soil and fill vacant spaces. Then, gently press the topsoil with your finger to give it more stability.
  8. Water Generously: Your poinsettia will love it!

If the poinsettia doesn’t come out of the old pot easily, lightly tap the outside of the pot with a mallet. If there are any black parts on the roots, cut them off.

Key Takeaways 

  • During the summer, keep poinsettias away from direct sunlight and manage them in a bright indoor space. Be mindful of surrounding obstacles and the draft from air conditioning.
  • When the soil’s surface becomes dry, water your poinsettia generously, and make sure to discard any water at the bottom of the pot each time.
  • Plant your poinsettia in all purpose potting soil, and only fertilize during the growing season, refraining after October.
  • In summer, poinsettias are susceptible to root rot, bud blasting, leaf scorching, and spider mite problems, but early detection can lead to a full recovery.
  • Prune the poinsettia when all the leaves have fallen, around January, and repot every two years during the early growth stage.

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