Poinsettia Care

The Poinsettia plant has been a Christmas tradition for decades.  But, how can you best take care of this plant so it lasts through Christmas and New Years?  Today I’m giving you some simple Poinsettia care to keep them looking their best.

How to care for your Poinsettia - Carmen Whitehead Designs

The Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima) is indigenous to a region in Mexico, where they bloom during December, creating crimson mountainsides and growing as high as 16 feet.  Nowadays, there are more than 100 varieties and hybrids.  So, if you want something different than the traditional red, you’re in luck!

How to care for your Poinsettia - Carmen Whitehead Designs
Poinsettia tree in Mexico

Choosing a Poinsettia

  • Look for dark green, dense and plentiful foliage
  • Tightly clustered buds to last throughout the Holiday season
  • Avoid plants with yellow, greenish-white, or sagging leaves
  • Look for tiny yellow buds in the center that have not opened yet

Caring for your Poinsettia

  • Light – Poinsettias need a minimum of six hours of bright (but not direct) light each day
  • Temperature- They prefer temperatures from 65 – 70 F during the day and not below 55 at night.  Protect the plant from both cold and hot drafts by doors, heaters or appliances.
  • Water- Keep your Poinsettia evenly moist, but not wet, soil.  When the top of the soil becomes dry, add room temperature water to the plant   Allow the water to drain through the pot and discard any excess water in the saucer.  If the plant came wrapped in a decorative foil, be sure to remove the foil so the plant does not sit in water when watering.
  • Overwatering the Poinsettia and letting it sit in excess water are common mistakes that will kill the plant.  If your Poinsettia begins to wilt, too much or too little water could be the culprit.  If the plant feels dry, add water immediately.  If the container feels heavy and the soil is wet, allow the Poinsettias to dry out before watering it again.
How to care for your Poinsettia - Carmen Whitehead Designs

Care for after Christmas

  • After the holidays, or when the plant starts to look tired, water about once a week.  The plant needs to rest after it’s blooming season.
  • Cut back the stems to half their size in about March or April.
  • When new growth begins to appear, it is safe to resume  a normal watering and feeding schedule.  Use regular houseplant food.
  • Move the plant outdoors when the outside nighttime temperature rise about 50 F.
  • Provide light, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight.
  • Plant the Poinsettia in the ground or leave it in the pot if you wish.  Repotting may be necessary at the end of the Summer after the plant has grown.  
  • Pinch back new growth in June, July or August to promote a bushier plant.

Getting your plant to re-bloom

  • When Fall temperatures begin to drop, bring the plant indoors.
  • From October 1 to December 1, (or for at least 40 days) a Poinsettia will need a strict light/dark regimen to produce color.  
  • Provide 13-16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily.  At dusk , place the plant in a dark room or closet, or cover with a box.  At dawn, move or uncover the plant to allow 8 hours of sunlight.

This is a pretty labor intensive process, but if you are lucky, you will have a healthy, colorful plant for the holidays.

Finally, Poinsettias are not poisonous.  Ingesting the leaves (it would take a lot) would cause some stomach discomfort.  The white sap can be a skin irritant to humans and pets; wash the affected area with soap and water after contact.  

I hope these tips help you maintain your beautiful Poinsettia and perhaps inspire you to keep it throughout the year.   Thanks so much for visiting with me today friends!


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