How To Make A Poinsettia Go Red

Home » Gardening » How To Make A Poinsettia Go Red

Embark on a horticultural journey to unravel the secrets of how to make a poinsettia go red. This comprehensive guide delves into the fascinating world of poinsettia coloration, providing practical tips and insights to transform your holiday blooms into vibrant crimson masterpieces.

Uncover the intricate interplay of light, temperature, and plant growth regulators in influencing poinsettia color development. Learn the secrets behind the “short day” technique and explore alternative approaches to achieving the desired red hue.

Understanding the Factors that Influence Poinsettia Color: How To Make A Poinsettia Go Red

Poinsettias, with their vibrant red bracts, are a beloved holiday plant. The color of these bracts is not a natural occurrence but rather a result of careful cultivation and environmental manipulation. Understanding the factors that influence poinsettia color is crucial for growers and enthusiasts alike.

Light Intensity and Duration

Light intensity and duration play a significant role in poinsettia coloration. High light intensity promotes the production of chlorophyll, the green pigment that masks the red pigments in poinsettia bracts. To achieve the desired red color, poinsettias require a period of darkness, known as “short-day conditions.”

During these short days, the production of chlorophyll is inhibited, allowing the red pigments to develop.

Temperature and pH

Temperature and pH also influence poinsettia color. Poinsettias thrive in warm temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Temperatures below 60°F (16°C) can inhibit color development, while temperatures above 80°F (27°C) can cause the bracts to turn green.The pH of the soil also affects poinsettia color.

Poinsettias prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Soil that is too acidic or too alkaline can interfere with nutrient uptake and affect the development of the red pigments.

Methods for Inducing Red Coloration

Poinsettia red christmas after green again nature leaves make foliage bracts votes match gets colors its party

The transformation of poinsettia bracts from green to red is a fascinating physiological process that can be influenced by various factors. Two primary methods are employed to induce this vibrant red coloration: the “short day” technique and the application of plant growth regulators.

Short Day Technique

The “short day” technique involves exposing poinsettias to periods of darkness that mimic the natural short days of winter. This triggers the production of ethylene, a plant hormone that promotes the development of red pigments called anthocyanins.

  1. Provide 12-14 hours of darkness daily:From early October to mid-December, poinsettias require uninterrupted periods of darkness for at least 12-14 hours each night.
  2. Use blackout curtains or light deprivation chambers:To ensure complete darkness, cover plants with blackout curtains or place them in light deprivation chambers.
  3. Avoid light exposure:Any exposure to light during the dark period can disrupt the process and prevent red coloration.

Plant Growth Regulators

In addition to the “short day” technique, plant growth regulators can also be used to enhance red coloration in poinsettias. These regulators include ethylene and gibberellic acid.

  • Ethylene:Ethylene gas can be applied to poinsettias to promote red coloration. It is typically used in conjunction with the “short day” technique.
  • Gibberellic acid:Gibberellic acid is a plant hormone that can inhibit stem elongation and promote bract development. It can be applied to poinsettias to enhance the size and color of the bracts.

Alternative Approaches to Red Poinsettias

Beyond traditional methods of inducing red coloration, alternative approaches offer unique possibilities for achieving vibrant poinsettias. These methods include utilizing specific cultivars, employing grafting techniques, and exploring the availability of red-colored dyes.

Specific Cultivars

Certain poinsettia cultivars are naturally predisposed to producing red bracts. By selecting these varieties, growers can bypass the need for additional treatments or manipulation. Some popular red-producing cultivars include ‘Freedom Red,’ ‘Annette Hegg Diva,’ and ‘Prestige Red.’

Grafting Techniques

Grafting involves combining two different plant species to create a single, unified organism. In the case of poinsettias, grafting a red-producing cultivar onto a different rootstock can induce red coloration in the grafted plant. This technique requires specialized skills and experience but offers a potential solution for growers seeking to produce red poinsettias.

Red-Colored Dyes

Red-colored dyes provide a convenient and less labor-intensive approach to achieving red poinsettias. These dyes are applied directly to the bracts, resulting in a temporary but vibrant red coloration. While not a permanent solution, dyes offer a quick and effective way to enhance the appearance of poinsettias for special occasions or events.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

How to make a poinsettia go red

Despite following the recommended methods, some poinsettias may fail to turn red or develop yellow or green leaves. This section will identify and address common problems and provide solutions to ensure successful red poinsettia coloration.

Yellow or Green Poinsettias

Yellow or green poinsettias indicate a lack of red pigment development. This can occur due to:

  • Insufficient Darkness:Poinsettias require complete darkness for 12-14 hours daily to produce red pigments.
  • Excessive Nitrogen:Over-fertilizing with nitrogen-rich fertilizers can inhibit red coloration.
  • Pest Infestation:Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can damage poinsettia leaves, affecting coloration.

Poinsettias That Fail to Turn Red

If poinsettias fail to turn red despite following the darkness and temperature requirements, consider the following:

  • Plant Age:Younger poinsettias may not have fully developed the ability to produce red pigments.
  • Cultivar Selection:Some poinsettia cultivars are naturally less prone to red coloration.
  • Environmental Stress:Extreme temperatures, drought, or excessive moisture can disrupt pigment production.

Potential Pests or Diseases

Pests and diseases can also affect poinsettia coloration. Common issues include:

  • Aphids:These tiny insects suck sap from leaves, causing yellowing and discoloration.
  • Mealybugs:These white, cottony insects can infest leaves and stems, inhibiting nutrient uptake and affecting coloration.
  • Botrytis Blight:This fungal disease causes gray mold on leaves and stems, leading to leaf drop and reduced coloration.

Care and Maintenance of Red Poinsettias

How to make a poinsettia go red

To maintain the vibrant red color of poinsettias, it’s crucial to provide optimal care. This includes meeting their light, temperature, and humidity needs, as well as proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Red poinsettias thrive in bright, indirect light. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves and fade the color. The ideal temperature range for poinsettias is between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Keep them away from drafts and cold windows.

Watering, How to make a poinsettia go red

Water poinsettias when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. Use room-temperature water and allow excess water to drain out of the drainage holes.


Fertilize poinsettias monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. Avoid overfertilizing, as this can damage the roots.


Prune poinsettias as needed to remove any dead or yellowing leaves. You can also pinch back the tips of stems to encourage bushier growth.

Repotting and Overwintering

Red poinsettias can be repotted in the spring if they become rootbound. Use a well-draining potting mix and a pot that is slightly larger than the previous one.

With proper care, poinsettias can be overwintered and brought back to bloom the following year. After the holidays, gradually reduce watering and stop fertilizing. Keep the plant in a cool, dark location until spring.