Growing Poinsettias Outdoors
Poinsettias, a common sight at Christmas, are normally grown in pots but can be grown outdoors in certain parts of the United States, Mexico and other sub-tropical and tropical regions. Temperature and light are very important when growing poinsettias. Soil drainage also should be taken into account, because poinsettias are prone to root diseases. Proper pruning and fertilizing can help ensure your poinsettias produce beautiful blooms.
Many people want to grow a poinsettia outdoors but there are only certain areas of the country where poinsettia plants grow well outdoors. If you want to grow a poinsettia outdoors then keep in mind that these plants are hardy in USDA zones 10-12 which includes areas such as southern Florida. As a native of Mexico, poinsettias need warm temperatures in order to thrive. Temperatures should be no less than 45 ºF (7 ºC) at night and the plants grow best when night temperatures are about 60 ºF (about 15 ºC) and day temperatures are around 67 ºF (19 ºC). Poinsettias will tolerate very mild frosts and should be covered with fabric in heavier frosts.
Growing a poinsettia outdoors requires a southern exposure. Poinsettias do best when exposed to indirect, bright light which naturally occurs with a southern exposure. The location you choose should provide protection for the plant from strong wind and rain. The plant should be covered with a box or bag in late September or early October and allowed 10 or less hours of light a day in order to stimulate flower production and encourage blooming.
The condition of the soil is important when you are planting a poinsettia outdoors. The soil around poinsettias should always be moist but the plant should never be allowed to sit in water. Soil that is too wet can cause root or crown rot. The plant will lose leaves and have poorly colored flowers if the soil is allowed to get too dry. Ideally, the soil will have a pH that measures around 6.5, which is slightly acidic.
Pruning is necessary when you grow a poinsettia outdoors. A poinsettia that is grown outdoors can grow up to 10 feet (about 3 meters) tall. You should prune the poinsettia every 2 months. You can get larger flower bracts, which are the colored leaves that make up the poinsettia flower, by thinning the branches while pinching the plant's tips will give you smaller flower bracts and a bushier plant.
Fertilizing can keep the poinsettia you grow healthy and should be done every other week. Slow release pellets can help ensure that your plant receives the proper amount of fertilizer. You should fertilize the poinsettia until the first frost arrives.