Growing poinsettia from seeds is not a gardening adventure most people even consider. Poinsettias are almost always found around Christmas time as fully grown potted plants to be given as gifts. Poinsettias are plants just like any other, though, and they can be grown from seed. Keep reading to learn about collecting poinsettia seed and growing poinsettia from seeds.
Poinsettia Seed Pods
The bright red “flower” of a poinsettia is not really a flower at all – it’s made of up special leaves called bracts that have evolved to look like flower petals. The real flower consists of the small, yellow parts in the center of the bracts. This is where the pollen is produced and where your poinsettia seed pods will develop. Poinsettias have both male and female parts and can either self-pollinate or cross-pollinate with other poinsettias. If your poinsettias are outside, they might be pollinated naturally by insects. Since they bloom in the winter, however, you’re probably keeping them as houseplants and will have to pollinate them yourself. With a cotton swab, gently brush against every flower, making sure to pick up some pollen each time. After a while, you should start seeing poinsettia seed pods-- big bulbous green things growing up on stalks out of the flowers. When the plant starts to fade, pick the poinsettia seed pods and store them in a paper bag in a dry place. After the pods are brown and dry, collecting poinsettia seeds should be as easy as popping the pods open inside the bag.
Growing Poinsettia from Seeds
So, what do poinsettia seeds look like and when should you plant poinsettia seeds? The poinsettia seeds you’ll find inside the pods are small and dark. In order to germinate, they first need to spend about three months in a cool place, like your refrigerator, a process called cold stratification. Then you can plant them under 1 ½ inches (4 cm.) of soil, but it may take a few weeks for them to sprout. Just keep the soil warm and moist until they do. Care for your seedlings the same as you would any other. Once mature, you will have yourself a poinsettia plant for gift-giving during the holidays.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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