Poinsettia Care – How Do You Take Care Of Poinsettias

Poinsettia Care – How Do You Take Care Of Poinsettias

How do you take care of poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)? Carefully. These finicky short-day plants require specific growing needs in order to retain their Christmas blooms. However, with proper care, your holiday poinsettia should continue to put out blooms, or in the least remain attractive for weeks after.

Holiday Poinsettia Plant Care

Poinsettia care begins with proper light, water, and temperature conditions. During the holidays, while in full bloom, they typically enjoy semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture. Poinsettia plants should be watered thoroughly, taking care not to drown them by ensuring adequate drainage is available. Likewise, avoid letting them sit in water-filled saucers, which can lead to root rot. Adding plants nearby can help increase humidity levels in dry rooms, as will humidifiers.

Once flower bracts have fallen, you have the option of discarding the plant or keeping it an additional year. For those choosing to continue with poinsettia care, decrease regular watering to allow the plant to dry out some. However, don’t let it dry out completely. Also, relocate the poinsettia plant to a cool, dark area until spring or around April.

Fertilizing Poinsettia Plants

Fertilizing poinsettia plants is never recommended while they’re still in bloom. Fertilize poinsettias only if keeping them after the holiday season. Apply fertilizer every two weeks or once monthly using a complete houseplant fertilizer. Provided the poinsettia plant is given the proper environmental conditions, it should begin to regrow within weeks.

Poinsettia Care After the Holidays

In spring, return the plant to a sunny area and water well. Cut back all canes (branches) to about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. It may also be a good idea to repot the poinsettia using the same type of soil. While poinsettias can be kept indoors throughout summer, many people choose to move them outdoors in a sunny, but protected, area of the flower garden by sinking the pot into the ground. Either way is fine.

After new growth has reached between 6 to 10 inches, pinch out the tips to encourage branching. This can be done once a month until the middle of August. Once nights become longer in fall, bring the poinsettia indoors.

From about September through November light becomes crucial in poinsettia plant care. In order to encourage blooming, poinsettia plants require long periods of darkness at night (about 12 hours). Therefore, move the poinsettia to a location where it will not receive any nighttime light or cover it with a box. Allow plenty of light during the day so the plant can absorb enough energy for flowering. Warmer days (65-70 F./18-21 C.) and cooler nights (55-60 F./13-16 C.) are also recommended. Provide semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture once blooming occurs.

Poinsettia Plant Leaves Are Falling Off

It’s important to pinpoint the possible cause in the event that your poinsettia plant leaves are falling off, as in some cases, this can be easily fixed. Environmental factors such as warm, dry conditions are most often the reason for leaf drop. Stress can also be a factor. Keep the plant in a cool, draft-free area and provide plenty of water. If all else fails, the plant may need to be discarded.

Now that you know how do you take care of poinsettias you can keep these lovely plants year round. With proper poinsettia plant care, they will give you many years of beauty.


Official Plant NameEuphorbia pulcherrima
Common Name(s)Poinsettia
Plant TypeHouseplant
Native AreaMexico and Central America
Hardiness RatingH1-H2
ToxicityToxic
FoliageEvergreen houseplant
FlowersGrown for bright red bracts
When To SowMay
Flowering MonthsJanuary, December
Sunlight

Preferred
Bright Filtered Light

Exposure
Sheltered

Height
0 – 60cm

Spread
0.1 – 0.5M

Bloom Time
December – January

Preferred
Free Draining Medium

Moisture
Well drained

When you think of poinsettias, you almost certainly think of Christmas.

With their star-like leaves and (most commonly) red and green colour, these vibrant flowering plants make a popular addition to many UK homes over the festive season.

Yet to bring it into your home during its December flowering period, only to discard it weeks later, does the poinsettia an injustice. In fact, if properly cared for, this colourful plant can survive the rest of the year in the UK, ready to bloom again next Christmas.

As the poinsettia is native to Mexico, it does require some care and attention to keep it alive this far north – this is not a plant you can leave to fend for itself. It’s important to keep it at the correct temperature, and water it the right amount, as well as to replicate its natural winter daylight hours if you want it to re-bloom – which we must warn you, won’t be as impressive second time around.

If that all sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry. We’ve put together this guide to the best poinsettia care and growing tips, to show you how you can keep a poinsettia healthy throughout the year, and benefit from its beautiful display of festive flowers for a second season – because a poinsettia isn’t just for Christmas!


Cover your plant when bringing it home, especially if it’s below 40 degrees. Most nurseries will provide a plastic sleeve, but, if not, cover it with a bag. And don’t let it sit in the chilly car while you run errands!

Poinsettias are tropical so they love light and will tolerate full sun. But they’ll put up with almost any kind of light, says Berg. You can put them wherever you like to enjoy a splash of color. In a very dark corner, however, they do tend to stretch and become leggy.


How to care for poinsettias year round

Last week I covered a variety of plants commonly displayed this time of year. I skipped poinsettias, one of the seasonal favorites. Keeping them alive for the season is reasonably easy keeping them for next year requires time and effort.

Since poinsettias are tender tropical plants, they need to be kept warm. Make them the last thing you buy and the first thing you take out of the car. Make sure the plant is protected for the trip from the store to the car. Even a very short exposure to the cold will damage the foliage.

Once they are home, give them:

Light: Sunny, an exposure with bright light.

Temperature: Warm, ideally 65-75 degrees during the day, about 60 degrees at night. Avoid locations with cold drafts and keep leaves away from the window glass.

Water: Water whenever the surface of the soil is dry. Puncture or remove decorative pot sleeves to allow the pot to drain. Do not allow the pot to sit in water. If the air is very dry (low humidity), you may need to water daily.

After the holidays, either discard them and get new ones next year or prepare for a rather specific schedule to promote growth and flowering next year.

To keep poinsettias:

January to March: Allow the plant to continue to grow in bright light with regular watering.

April: The leaves should start to fall off. At this point, reduce watering to allow the soil to dry. The plant will go dormant. Water only enough to keep the stems from shriveling and move to a cooler spot (60 degrees).

May: About the middle of the month, cut back the main stems to about 4 inches and repot in fresh soil and a slightly larger pot. Water whenever the surface of the soil is dry and return the plant to bright light and higher temperatures. When new growth appears, usually in about two weeks, start fertilizing about every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.

June: Move the plant outside for the summer. Place it in partial shade and continue to water as needed and fertilize regularly.

July: Early this month, pinch back the growth on each stem by about an inch.

August: About midmonth, pinch back again, allowing three to four leaves on each sprout.

September: Continue to water and fertilize. Allow the plant to remain outside as long as the temperatures are about 65 degrees. Move indoors as temperatures drop.

October: The plants now need a regular schedule of dark and light. Move plants into complete darkness for 12-plus hours each day. Even streetlights or cracks of light in a box or closet can disrupt the process.

November: Near the end of the month, stop the dark treatment and return the plant to a warm, bright location. You should begin to see buds setting.

December: Stop fertilizing about midmonth, continue to water and treat as you did last year, i.e., avoid placing plants in drafts or against windowpanes. If all went well, your plant should reflower.

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Poinsettia Plant Care Tips

Holiday Poinsettia Plant Care

Poinsettia care begins with proper light, water, and temperature conditions. During the holidays, while in full bloom, they typically enjoy semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture. Poinsettia plants should be watered thoroughly, taking care not to drown them by ensuring adequate drainage is available. Likewise, avoid letting them sit in water-filled saucers, which can lead to root rot. Adding plants nearby can help increase humidity levels in dry rooms, as will humidifiers. Once flower bracts have fallen, you have the option of discarding the plant or keeping it an additional year. For those choosing to continue with poinsettia care, decrease regular watering to allow the plant to dry out some. However, don’t let it dry out completely. Also, relocate the poinsettia plant to a cool, dark area until spring or around April.

Fertilizing Poinsettia Plants

Fertilizing poinsettia plants is never recommended while they’re still in bloom. Fertilize poinsettias only if keeping them after the holiday season. Apply fertilizer every two weeks or once monthly using a complete houseplant fertilizer. Provided the poinsettia plant is given the proper environmental conditions, it should begin to regrow within weeks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you keep a poinsettia alive?

It’s possible to keep your poinsettia alive even after the Christmas season and let it live as a foliage houseplant indoors. If you’re careful to provide the right growing conditions such as temperatures, water, light, fertilizers, and humidity, there’s a high chance that your poinsettias will live year after year.

In order to keep it longer, continue to propagate and repot the plant when it’s deemed necessary.

Why are leaves falling off my poinsettia?

It’s normal for poinsettia leaves to fall off after the holidays. This is because it enters a period of rest and it will regrow its leaves back when spring comes. When this happens, don’t throw the plant away!

What you can do is place it in a location that’s bright and cool (50-55 degrees Fahrenheit). Let the soil dry and water only occasionally just to prevent the stems from drying out. That way, the plant will continue to live even after the shedding off.

Other reasons for falling off of leaves include exposure to hot and cold drafts or improper watering.

What do I do with my poinsettia after Christmas?

Unless the plant totally died, don’t throw your poinsettia away after Christmas. Even when the bracts are no longer red in color, you can always treat it as another houseplant to display inside your home.

Find a bright location where bright but indirect sunlight comes is available. The night temperature must be around (60-65 degrees). Keep watering and fertilizing the poinsettia every week to keep it healthy and flourishing.

How can I get my poinsettia to turn red again?

Poinsettia plants turn red again when it receives shorter days for a certain period of time. As a photoperiodic plant, it responds to the changes in the length of the day by initiating bud formation. You can manipulate the color changes by exposing your plant to longer darker periods for 10 weeks.

You can put the potted poinsettias in a properly lit area like beside a window. After it receives at most 12 hours of daylight, move it to a closed area where no hint of light is available. Move it back to the original spot when the morning comes and do it every day until the bloom starts to appear.

Are poinsettias good house plants?

Poinsettias are good houseplants even when the foliage has turned back to its green color. It is a good foliage ornamental to add to your collection. You can take care of it by following the indoor care tips recommended for poinsettias.

For best results, try to provide the ideal environmental conditions as much as possible. If you’re successful in maintaining the poinsettia healthy throughout the months, you’d be lucky to have the best-looking poinsettias to decorate when the holidays come.


Watch the video: How to Grow Poinsettia Year Round - Complete Growing Guide