Poinsettias are tropical plants that are normally grown indoors, but they can also be grown outdoors in the right climate.
In this article I’ll discuss the best ways to care for your poinsettia plants so that they thrive when planted outdoors.
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How to grow poinsettias outdoors
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular indoor Christmas plants but they can also be planted outdoors in USDA zones 9 to 11.
In cooler climates, poinsettias can be planted in containers and moved indoors in fall when the temperature starts to cool down.
Don’t plant your poinsettia outdoors straight after Christmas because they need to be slowly acclimatized to the change in temperature and light.
The best time to plant poinsettias outdoors is in late spring, after the last frost has passed.
The best location to plant poinsettias outdoors is an area that receives full or partial sun during the day.
Poinsettias need at least six hours of sunlight each day to thrive.
If you live in a cooler climate, then you should also choose a location that is sheltered from the wind.
This will protect your plants from the cold and help them to retain moisture.
You’ll also need to ensure that the spot you choose is completely dark at night time.
This is necessary because poinsettias need a period of darkness each night to produce flower buds.
If your garden is away from outdoor lighting, street lights and brightly lit windows you’ll give your poinsettia the best chance of budding.
Poinsettias have large colorful bracts which are often mistaken for flowers.
The flowers are actually small round yellow structures at the center of each bract, called cyathia.
Poinsettias are most commonly red in color but they’re also available in pink, cream, orange and white.
Hardening off poinsettias
Indoor poinsettia plants need some time to adjust to the new outdoor environment before you plant them in the garden.
You can harden the plants off by placing them outdoors for a few hours each day to get them used to the different conditions before planting them outdoors.
Planting poinsettias outdoors
Poinsettias prefer rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Prepare the soil before planting by mixing in some organic matter such as compost or aged manure.
This will help the poinsettia’s roots to grow and establish quickly.
Dig a hole that is big enough to accomodate the root ball, remove the plant from the container and place it in the bottom of the hole.
Fill the hole with soil and water deeply to remove any air pockets in the soil.
If you’re planting more than one poinsettia in the garden, space them out at least two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) apart to give the plants plenty of room to spread out as they grow.
Poinsettias grow best in soil that is kept evenly moist, but try to ensure that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.
Overly wet soil can cause root rot in poinsettias.
Poinsettias need high quality fertilizer to produce their beautiful brightly colored bracts.
Apply a slow release fertilizer in spring or use a water soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks until fall.
Pests and diseases
Poinsettias can be affected by a number of diseases such as root rot, poinsettia scab, bacterial leaf spot and blight. 
Take care to ensure that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged and spray the plants with a fungicidal spray to control fungal diseases.
Mealybugs, thrips and whiteflies are common poinsettia pests and they can be controlled by spraying the plant thoroughly with insecticidal soap.
How big do outdoor poinsettia plants grow?
Outdoor poinsettia plants can grow into small trees 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m) tall but you can keep them to a manageable size with regular pruning.
Can poinsettias tolerate full sun?
Yes, poinsettias can tolerate full sun but they will need some protection from the hot afternoon sun in warmer climates. In cooler climates, full sun is fine.
When should I prune my outdoor poinsettia plant?
Poinsettias should be trimmed back to 12 inches (30 cm) from the ground in late winter or early spring.
It’s also a good idea to pinch the tips of the plants back to encourage the plants to grow full and bushy.
Now that you know how to grow poinsettias outdoors, you can enjoy their beauty in any season.
Have you tried planting poinsettias outdoors in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.
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