How do I care for an overgrown, didn't bloom poinsettia?

CrystalEyesMarch 15, 2014

I got a tiny little poinsettia back in Dec of 2012 (see photo). Now a year and a half later the little monster is about 2-2.5 feet tall. I'm a complete plant novice, my only other plants are an aloe plant, and a teeny little cactus -- hardly high maintenance.

My issue isn't that it didn't bloom, but more so that it's gotten taller, but kinda empty in the middle and bottom. I've repotted it twice since getting it, it's in a like 8" pot now (I'll post a current picture soon). So my first question, is my pot too small? The leaves at the top of the plant are a beautiful green, but below them the leaves are light, usually turn yellow, and then fall off. So the taller it grows, the less bushy it looks. Why are the other leaves turning yellow and falling off? =(

Second, I know (now) I was supposed to prune it, but I didn't. And now I have no idea how much to cut off to get it down to size... or even how to cut a plant properly. My fear is that if I cut too much, there won't be enough for it to survive =(.
(And side question, how do I "prune" a plant? Can I use a sharp pair of scissors? Do I cut straight, or at an angle? Do I just cut off the leaves, or the actual thick branch?)

The plant is in the window of my apartment, so it gets decent light during day only. I tend to water it just when the leaves start to droop, should I water it more often? I used to, but I started having a problem with gnats so I cut back. Sorry for the barrage of questions...

This post was edited by CrystalEyes on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 19:05

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Here's a photo I just took, don't worry I took out those dead leaves just after the photo!

There's some new shoots towards the bottom that I'm hoping have good potential, but the whole middle of the large branches is empty.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 6:51PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Did you start your dark treatment early enough....and were the hours of darkness totally uninterrupted?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:17PM
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Yes, and yes. But I'm not worried about it not blooming, I'm more confused about how to prune it, and when to. I've found a lot of articles that say to prune it after winter (after it's bloomed), but it hasn't bloomed, so should I just cut it now?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:31PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I grow mine in pots but outdoors . i find they tend to get rather leggy and need to be pruned at least twice before winter. Actually they can be pruned into almost any shape you want lol You can make new plants with the cuttings .The more heads the more flowers it will produce .
I prune anytime it starts to get out of hand with no problem.. They can be a wonderful tree form with enough room and patience . You'll probably want short and bushy as a house plant?? gary

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 4:00AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

You could prune it now or even into May. Its called the "Holiday Plant" because you prune it hard around Easter and then take off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the new growth on Memorial Day and again on the 4th of July for a bushier plant.

It may sound drastic, but you could cut it down to about a foot tall on your first cut. Dormant buds will break on leafless stems, but I try to leave a few leaves somewhere on the plant. One monster I have I cut back to no leaves one year and it leafed out just fine. You don't say where you are, but I acclimate mine to full sun and bury the pot in the garden for summer and start the photoperiod in September (Labor Day). 10 hours of light, 14 hours of total darkness.


Here is a link that might be useful: How I do it

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 12:09PM
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