January 9, 2016

1 - Poinsettia plants may be propagated from stem cuttings to produce new plants if they are not patented varieties.

Yard and Garden January 9, 2016


I bought a beautiful poinsettia with speckled flowers this year and want to try to grow some new plants from cuttings. Is it possible to grow new plants from cuttings taken from stems of this plant?


This answer is based largely on the answer to a similar question I received in Jan. 12, 2008

It is possible to propagate poinsettias by stem cuttings. However, if a plant patent protects the plant, it is not legal. Check the label or check at the nursery from which you purchased the plant to see if this cultivar is currently protected by a patent.

If your plant is not a patent-protected variety, then you can take cuttings to grow new plants. If you have a greenhouse it will be easier to induce the cuttings to form roots. It is more difficult, but possible to do this indoors on a windowsill.

Cuttings should be healthy new stems cut from vigorous plants. The old stems that flowered this year are not the best cuttings to use. Cut the stems back after flowers and the colorful bracts fade, and allow new growth to develop. Keep the parent plants warm, consistently moist, and in a bright location to produce useful cuttings. Once the new stems have grown at least 4 inches, you can begin taking cuttings. The cuttings should be between 3 to 4 inches long with 2 to 3 mature leaves.

Rooting hormones will increase the probability that the cuttings will produce new roots. Rooting hormone powders are available in many garden centers. Carefully insert the hormone-treated base of each cutting into preformed holes in moist, pasteurized, well-drained potting soil. Use preformed holes so that the hormone will not rub off the cutting. (This is not as critical if a liquid rooting hormone is used.) Place the cuttings in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight. Put the pots with cuttings inside plastic bags to maintain humidity and prevent them from wilting. The brighter the light in which you can grow them without causing wilting, the greater the chance of success in creating new, rooted plants. If the plants will be in direct sunlight use white plastic bags to diffuse the light and prevent excess heating.

After 3 to 4 weeks, the cuttings should have a well-developed root system. Put them into pots to grow them until you begin inducing them to flower next fall. You can grow them outside until temperatures begin to approach freezing in the fall, then take them indoors. After the autumnal equinox, induce them to flower by providing long, nights (at least 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness). Poinsettias are called "short-day plants" because flowers initiate when days are less than 12 hours long.

If you find that your plant is still under patent and that you should not propagate it, you can find information about regrowing your original poinsettia plant for next year at Guide: H-406: Poinsettias: Year after Year.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!