Issue: January 12, 2008
Propagating poinsettias from cuttings
Is it possible to take cuttings from my poinsettia plants and make new plants? If it is possible, how do I do this?
It is possible to propagate poinsettias by stem cuttings. However, if a plant patent protects the plant, it is not legal.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.
Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!