pruning poinsettia trees

Asked May 19, 2017, 11:57 AM EDT

I have read your information on poinsettia's I have hunted thru the internet for information but all info seems to be for the potted christmas plant. We have 9 pointsettia trees and they were 30 foot tall when we cut them this spring we would like to keep tham manageable and have red flowers at about 4 to five feet. I would like to know how to prune them properly. They are currently 4 foot tall how far back on the stem should they be pruned? Do I just keep cutting them to four feet by lopping off the tops?

Thank you for your time
Susan Ajijic Mexico

Outside United States trees and shrubs

1 Response

Hello,

My father who lives in OHIO has a poinsettia plant, a tree really that he maintains as a bush. It is many years old and he plants it out in the garden every summer and cuts it back and brings it inside in the winter.
As with all pruning questions, how you prune it depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to maintain it as a low 4' flowering shrub, I think you need to follow basic heading back techniques that are used for size reduction on shrubs and eventually thinning cuts to ensure that it doesn't get too crowded.
Do you want to maintain a tree form or is a bush form okay?
What I am proposing is drastic renewal pruning because what you need to do to have an attractive plant that doesn't look like it's just been lopped off, is to reestablish branching structure at a lower level.
Here's what I would do.
If it responds the way I think it will what you need to do is to cut the entire thing down to about 3' tall and a single stem. As resprouting begins from the cut, I would remove all side branches from the trunk and choose 3-5 new leaders with strong attachments from near the cut that will become the new top of the plant. As they start to grow, head them back once in awhile to side branch that is growing in the direction you want it to grow to develop a good head. Keep extra branches thinned out so that these chosen few can become stronger and support the canopy of growth. The more often you prune the branch ends the thicker it will grow. As it approaches the flowering time, you want to stop pruning it and allow it to produce bracts.
Each year cut it back to the same structure to start over with if you want to maintain the 4-5' height.

Hope this helps.

Kirsten