The Grover farm in Laval produced 278,000 poinsettia plants this year, making it one of the largest producers in the country. After decorating thousands of homes, the vast majority of them will disappear with the Christmas tree, even before their pretty red leaves start to fade. Even among the Grovers, however, some have gotten into the habit of giving them a little reprieve. “My grandmother proudly kept hers until Easter,” remembers Joëlle Grover, co-owner of the farm. The plant was still very beautiful, but its leaves were no longer red at all. ”
After its winter flowering, the poinsettia can indeed turn into a pretty houseplant, which requires relatively little care or light.
If the edge of the window is already occupied by other plants, we can place the poinsettia further, it will be happy with it.
Joëlle Grover, co-owner of the Grover farm
At the Montreal Botanical Garden, employees used to have fun letting certain poinsettias grow until they become shrubs, recalls biologist Marie-France Larochelle. “There were some that were over 1 meter high,” she says.
The key to promoting plant growth is to water it properly: abundantly, but not too often. “When the first two or three centimeters of the soil are very dry,” explains Marie-France Larochelle, “we water the plant properly. The potting soil should, however, be well drained to prevent root rot. Thirty minutes after watering, there should therefore be no water left in the saucer under the pot.
Another important element: the temperature. The poinsettia is very resistant to drafts, both those that are blown by a heating system and those that slip through an open door in the middle of winter. A cold snap between the grocery store and your living room could also be fatal (leaves that soften are a sign). A cool night temperature (around 16 ° C) will however favor a more durable flowering, with the bracts (the colored leaves which surround the tiny flowers of the plant) still very red long after the last gifts.
Sooner or later all the leaves will turn green anyway. Over time, too, the plant will become less bushy. In spring, a good cut (the upper third of the stems) will promote the emergence of new shoots for a more compact habit. The poinsettia also likes to spend the summer in the great outdoors, a little in the shade, especially if it is repotted and a little fertilized. Note that the leaves and latex (sap) of the plant are slightly toxic and could inconvenience a child or an animal who ingests them.
To make your poinsettia bloom again at Christmas, on the other hand, the task will be much more complex. “The poinsettia is a short-day plant,” explains Marie-France Larochelle, “and its flowering is caused by nights of at least 14 hours, for 8 to 10 weeks. »The slightest beam of nocturnal light deceives the plant and prevents the leaves from turning red. “To trigger flowering, you have to cover your plant with a box every day from 6 pm to 8 am,” explains the biologist. It can be an interesting challenge for some, but better not to have too high expectations! ”
If you miss your shot, rest assured, the very red poinsettias will be back as if by magic everywhere from the second week of November next year, promises Joëlle Grover. It’s a bit like that, the magic of Christmas …