If you saved last year's poinsettia plant, and you want it to flower
in time for the holidays, now is the time for action. Poinsettias need
about 8 weeks of special handling to force them to re-bloom.
Poinsettias are sensitive to photoperiod -- the length of the day. Actually,
it's the number of hours of darkness that is most important. Poinsettias
flower during short days, with long periods of darkness each night. In
the home environment, even a dim lamp is enough to delay the initiation
of flower buds.
To get your poinsettia to re-flower, place the plant in complete darkness
for 15 hours each day, for instance, between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. the next
morning. A dark closet that is not frequently used is ideal. Any interruption
of the dark period, including merely opening the closet door, can result
in delayed flowering.
During the day, the plant should be given a sunny location. Water as
needed to allow a slight drying of the soil between applications. A fertilizer
that is formulated for blooming houseplants is also helpful; follow the
label recommendations for rates and frequency.
To have your plant flowering in time for the
holidays, you'll need to begin the dark treatments around the beginning
of October. The treatments can be discontinued when the plants begin showing
good color, usually by early December.