Follow these steps and you can have colorful poinsettias from year to year...

 I've had an Irish poinsettia (green leaves) since 1990.  Although most people simply throw it out after the holidays, I have kept mine all year. When I retired, I decided to get it to  re-bloom (red leaves) All it took was a cool, dark spot, a closet and some perseverance. Here's how:

1. Holiday Season: Enjoy, providing water and sunlight for poinsettias through the holidays until they stop blooming.

2.  Post Holiday Season: Once the flowers (technically, they're bracts, but we'll call them flowers) are gone, allow the plants to dry out.

3. Dormant Time: When they've entered dormancy, lay potted poinsettias on their sides in a cool, dark unheated basement until April.  They will only have to be checked periodically; if the woody stems start to shrivel, they'll need a little spritz of water. This may not be necessary.

4. Spring: In April bring plants back into the main part of the house, trim about 2 inches from the end of each stem, place by a sunny window and water regularly, keeping soil moist but never soggy.

5. Late Spring: Move poinsettias outdoors around Memorial Day or continue to keep them as houseplants over the summer.

6. Fertilize: Fertilize once a month with one teaspoon per gallon of a complete fertilizer (20-20-20).

7. Late Summer: Around Labor Day, check for insects, and if any are found, pick them off by hand or rinse the plants with a gentle stream of water to remove, then bring plants indoors. (If they're already indoors, then just keep doing what you've been doing.) Place by a sunny window and continue to water and fertilize monthly. Poinsettias do best if temperatures are kept between 70-75 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night.

8. Fall (Bright Days/Dark Nights): To form flower buds, poinsettias require about 15 hours of complete darkness daily. So for 40 days beginning Oct. 1, keep them in a very bright, sunny spot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, then move them into a dark closet from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Do not skip this, even for one night, or buds may not form.

9. Late Fall (Seeing  Some Red): By Nov. 10 you should notice the bracts' taking on a reddish hue. From this point on, keep plants in the main part of the house around the clock and continue to water and fertilize.

10. Next Holiday Season: You should be seeing red (or white) in time for the holidays.

Enjoy your renewed colorful poinsettias.

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