How to Make a Poinsettia Turn Red: An Expert Guide

To make a poinsettia turn red, it needs to be kept in total darkness for 14-15 hours each day, starting in mid-october until thanksgiving. Poinsettias are traditional christmas plants known for their vibrant red colors.

For gardeners, the challenge lies in turning the leaves of this plant red, which is only possible if the plant receives a precise amount of light and darkness. If you’re wondering how to make a poinsettia turn red, the answer is quite simple – it needs to be kept in total darkness for at least 14-15 hours each day to stimulate the natural blooming process. This process starts in mid-october, and it continues until thanksgiving, but the effectiveness of this method largely depends on how strictly you follow the guidelines. Let’s dig a little deeper into this topic to understand how to turn poinsettia leaves red.

How to Make a Poinsettia Turn Red: An Expert Guide


Understanding Poinsettias

Poinsettias are undeniably one of the most iconic symbols of the festive season, adorning millions of homes worldwide. Although they are commonly associated with christmas, scientific research has shown time and time again that poinsettias respond primarily to the changes that occur in daylight.

If you own a poinsettia and wish for its leaves to turn red, it is important to not only understand the plant’s characteristics, but also its history and origin. Here is a concise look at everything you need to know about poinsettias, including their history, characteristics, and varieties.

History Of Poinsettias And Their Origin

  • The poinsettia, scientifically known as euphorbia pulcherrima, is a flowering plant native to mexico.
  • The plant gets its common name from joel roberts poinsett, an avid botanist and us ambassador to mexico who introduced the plant to the united states in 1825.
  • The poinsettia was initially used by the aztecs for medicinal purposes because of its antipyretic properties – it was believed to reduce fevers.
  • Today, poinsettias are widely cultivated in many different varieties; however, its vibrant red color remains the most iconic and popular.
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Characteristics Of Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias are known for their large, colorful leaves, called ‘bracts,’ which grow around small flowers in the center.
  • The bracts can come in various colors besides the trademark red, including pink, cream, and white.
  • When a poinsettia is exposed to more than 12 hours of darkness each day, its bracts begin to change color and turn red.
  • Poinsettias can grow up to 10 feet tall in the wild, but those purchased for household use usually grow to about two feet tall.

Varieties Of Poinsettias

  • There are over 100 different varieties of poinsettias available today, including the popular ‘jingle bells,’ ‘ice punch,’ and ‘winter rose’ varieties.
  • Some varieties have different shaped bracts, such as the ‘oak leaf’ variety, which has elongated, narrow bracts.
  • Poinsettias can also come in different sizes, from tiny six-inch pots to enormous 24-inch pots.

By understanding the history, characteristics, and varieties of poinsettias, you can better care for your plant and ensure that its bracts change to that beautiful, festive red. Remember, providing your poinsettia with the proper amount of darkness each day is crucial for encouraging the plant to bloom and produce those gorgeous red bracts.

Factors Affecting Poinsettia Color

Poinsettias are popular for their beautiful, deep red hues that are seen during the winter months. However, many people don’t know that these vibrant colors are not natural and must be induced by controlling several factors.

Light Requirements For Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias need a lot of light to turn red, but direct sunlight can be harmful to the plant.
  • Place the plant near a sunny window, but not directly in front of it, or use fluorescent lights as a supplement.
  • Ensure that the plant receives 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight every day.

Temperature Requirements For Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias require a specific temperature to turn red, which falls between 60 – 70°f during the day and 55 – 65°f at night.
  • Avoid placing the plant in areas with drafts or sudden temperature changes that could damage the plant.
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Watering Needs For Poinsettias

  • Overwatering or underwatering the plant can lead to leaf drop or other problems, affecting the color change.
  • Water only when the soil is dry, making sure to drain excess water from the container.
  • Mist the plant occasionally with a spray bottle to maintain humidity levels.

Nutrient Requirements For Poinsettias

  • A balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is essential for the plant’s growth and color change.
  • Apply fertilizer every two weeks, but make sure not to overdo it, as too much can cause leaf burn.

Choosing A Healthy Poinsettia Plant For The Color Change

  • Choose a plant with dark, green foliage and healthy roots.
  • Make sure the leaves are not wilted, yellowed, or damaged.
  • Check the center of the flowers for small yellow buds, called cyathia, which indicate that the plant is ready to change color.

Steps For Inducing Poinsettias To Turn Red

  • To turn poinsettias red, they must be kept in complete darkness for 14 hours a day, starting in late september or early october.
  • Cover the plant with a lightproof bag or place it in a closet or dark room.
  • During the remaining 10 hours of the day, the plant needs bright light and regular care according to the above factors.

Timing For Inducing Poinsettias To Turn Red

  • The timing for inducing poinsettias to turn red is critical. Begin the darkness period around late september or early october to ensure they turn red by the holiday season.
  • The plant needs a minimum of 8 weeks of complete darkness to turn red.

Caring For Your Red Poinsettia To Ensure Longevity

  • Once the plant has turned red, place it near a sunny window, maintaining the same temperatures, humidity, and watering requirements mentioned earlier.
  • Keep the plant away from drafts or sudden temperature changes.
  • Trim the plant regularly to maintain its shape, and remove faded blooms or leaves.
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Common Issues And Troubleshooting

  • Common issues with poinsettias include leaf drop, wilting, or soggy soil.
  • Keep the plant away from cold, drafts, or direct sunlight which can cause leaf curling or leaf scorching.
  • Overwatering or underwatering can harm the plant and lead to color change issues.
  • Monitor the plant regularly and check the soil’s moisture levels before watering.

To turn a poinsettia red, you must keep in mind several factors like light, temperature, watering, nutrients, and proper care. Inducing poinsettias to turn red requires careful timing and complete darkness for a specific period. By following the above guidelines, you can keep your poinsettia vibrant and healthy throughout the holiday season!

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By now, you are equipped with all the knowledge required to make your poinsettia turn red. The process may seem complicated, especially when it comes to timing, but it’s worth it. As you follow the steps, keep in mind that a healthy environment is crucial.

If the plant is happy, it will reward you with vibrant red blooms. Remember that getting the right lighting is crucial, ensuring it receives enough darkness and that you are patient in the process. With the right care and maintenance, your poinsettia will bloom vibrantly, bringing joy and festive cheer to your home.

With these tips, you have got everything you need to turn your poinsettia into a stunning display of beautiful red flowers. So go ahead, give it a try, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.