The Christmas before last, our friend Martha gave us a beautiful poinsettia plant that I repotted and set outside for the summer. It grew so large and bushy that, in November, I decided to try something I had never before attempted: getting it to bloom again.
To achieve this, one must fool the innocent poinsettia into thinking it has been suddenly transported to, say, Reykjavik, by keeping it in complete darkness from 5pm to 8am for ten weeks. This would mean: 1. putting it into a dark closet, assuming there was space among the family shoes, umbrellas, and vacuum cleaner; or, 2. lugging it downstairs to the basement every night and remembering to bring it up each morning (ha!); or, 3. covering it with an opaque material.
I opted for the third option. Every night (well, that is, when I remembered), I immersed the long-suffering poinsettia in a double layer of trash bags—kind of like covering a bird cage—and removed them in the morning. I stopped before Christmas, by which time, according to the instructions, “you should see flower buds.” Hmmm. No flower buds. Oh, well, I thought, I suppose I forgot to cover it too many times, and I returned it to its sunny alcove with other wintering-over plants. What a lot of bother for nothing.
When I went to water the plants this week, lo and behold: there were BUDS, some of them beginning to open! I am thrilled, and ready to try it again next winter.