Care of poinsettia plants


Now it needs to hibernate a little. So to help it go dormant, beginning April 1, gradually decrease water, allowing the soil to get dry between watering. Be careful the stem does not begin to wither. Should this happen your plant is rejecting your efforts, thus declining fast and no doubt soon will make it into your trash. After a couple of weeks, the plant will have got use to this drying process, so you can move it to a nice coldish place that stays around 60 degrees F (like a cellar or a furnace room; in an apartment, control the temperature as much as you can — your best bet may be against an outside wall, and definitely out of direct sunlight.) Water very little, never soaking or allowing it to sit in water.


A month after you moved it into the cooler spot — mid-May — cut all stems back to finger length (about 4 inches.) To be ready for the plant’s eventual growth spurt, take this time to repot the poinsettia in a somewhat bigger container. If it is still in the plastic pot, I switch it into something more decorative, too. Take your time and water well to wake it up. Now you can bring back to the sunniest spot you have in your home, this will keep it at a temperature up to 75 degrees F throughout the summer and into September, even when you have your AC on. Continue watering on a regular schedule. You should soon begin to notice some regeneration — stalks, sprouts or leaves — a sign that you are half way there. This is the best time to begin fertilizing, too. Fertilize a couple times a month with a good complete fertilizer — simply use a regular houseplant fertilizer mixed at half strength.

Up next: Caring for you poinsettia in June

Originally published December 2015. Updated November 2017.

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Poinsettia Care Following Christmas: What To Do With Poinsettias After Holidays

So you’ve received a poinsettia plant over the holiday season, but what on earth are you to do next, now that the holidays are over? Read on to find tips on how to care for a poinsettia after Christmas in this article so you can, hopefully, enjoy your plant year round.

Keeping Poinsettias After Holidays

With their brightly colored bracts swaddling the plants during the drearier days of late fall and winter, and just in time for Christmas, who doesn’t love the poinsettia. That being said, once the holidays are over, many of us are left with questions about what to do next. Do we keep the plant or toss it? After all, won’t there be another one available next year, like the ever abundant chrysanthemums lining storefronts and nurseries each fall.

Well, the good news is that caring for poinsettia plants after Christmas is possible BUT keep in mind that your poinsettias after holidays will require specific attention.

How to Care for a Poinsettia After Christmas

After Christmas poinsettia care begins with suitable growing conditions. If you’ve taken care to keep your poinsettia in a nice, warm sunny window (free of drafts) thus far, you’re halfway there. It should receive at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.

For continual bloom of your poinsettia care following Christmas, the plant also needs day temps between 65 and 70 degrees F. (18 and 21 C.) and slightly cooler at night, though keep it above 60 F. (15 C.) to avoid leaf drop.

Continue your normal watering routine until spring (or first of April), then allow it to dry gradually. Around the middle of April or May, or if your plant becomes leggy, cut the stems back to about 4 inches above the soil and repot in a larger container with fresh, sterile potting mix (soilless mix is good too). Note: You can remove any faded or dried parts of the plant anytime.

Water thoroughly and then put the plant back in a sunny window. Check the poinsettia periodically to make sure the plant has adequate moisture. Water again only when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.

After new growth begins, feed your poinsettia every couple weeks at the recommended rate with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

In early summer, when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 F. (10 C.), you can move the plant outdoors (in its pot) in a slightly shady location. Gradually, allow the plant to get more light until finally giving it full sun. Continue watering and fertilizing the plant as usual.

Trim again as needed in summer (typically around the first to middle part of July), pinching about an inch of terminal growth from each stem. Give it another pruning towards the first part of September. Trim off two to three inches to promote side branching, allowing 3 or 4 leaves to remain on each shoot.

By this time, it should be getting cool enough outside, 55-60 F. or 12-15 C., to warrant bringing the plant indoors near a sunny window. Once again, maintain similar indoor temperatures as before (65 to 70 F. or 18 to 21 C.) and continue watering and fertilizing.

Now comes the fun part… getting it to bloom in time for Christmas. Poinsettias require short day lengths to bloom and form those colorful bracts we love so much. Begin keeping your poinsettia in complete darkness for about 12-14 hours from the first part of October until Thanksgiving – or an 8- to 10-week period. Simply stick it in a closet or cover with a large box every evening and then return the plant to its sunny window during the remainder part of the day.

By Thanksgiving, you should be able to stop the dark period altogether, placing the plant in a sunny area for at least six hours daily. Reduce water and fertilizer. Then, by Christmas, your blooming poinsettia, hopefully, will be the centerpiece of holiday decor and ready to begin the cycle anew.

While there’s no guarantee that your poinsettia will bloom again even with the best care, it’s certainly worth a try. Remember, though, that foliage is pretty too. Caring for poinsettia plants after Christmas is that easy.

Nothing says Christmas like a beautiful pot of poinsettias. Problem is, sometimes these gorgeous plants don’t even last until Christmas Eve, completely crushing your holiday spirit. But with a few tips and tricks up our sleeve, your poinsettias can stay fresh long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

  1. Place them in the right spot. Poinsettias are tropical plants, so adequate lighting and temperature are essential for the well-being of your bouquet. Make sure to keep your lush red flowers in some form of indirect sunlight, but don’t let them get too close to cold windows or heating or air conditioning vents.
  2. Maintain a room temperature between 65 to 70 degrees. Higher temps will shorten a plant’s life.
  3. Punch holes in the bottom foil cover so that water can drain into a saucer. When the soil feels dry to the touch, add more water, stat! Excess water will pool in your saucer, so make sure to dump that out after. Check on the state of your poinsettia’s soil daily.
  4. Opt for a newer variety. New varieties of poinsettias last longer, according to Seattle Times, so ask an employee from the nursery you’re buying from which ones fall into the “new” category. Plants with little to no yellow pollen showing are also your best bet.

Still not sure you can keep a poinsettia alive? If you’re feeling crafty, try our DIY poinsettia ornament. No maintenence required!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Twinkling white lights line the streets and homes and shops put up their decorations and Christmas trees. Perhaps there’s even a poinsettia among your holiday decor this year.

The poinsettia is a classic plant for Christmas around the world and one that can last much longer than the holiday season with the right care. We’re going to explain just where they came from and how to care for a poinsettia so you can enjoy the classic Christmas flower all year round.

Poinsettia’s history as a gift

Poinsettia plants are members of the spurge family. Its scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima and is also known as the Star of Christmas. We know it more commonly as simply poinsettia.

This is thanks to an American doctor called Joel Robert Poinsett. He was a great lover of botany who worked as the US ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s. It was there that he discovered the beautiful plant with its stunning red leaves. It impressed him so much that he brought some seeds of the plant with him on returning to the United States.

Not satisfied with just this, he knew that he had to share its beauty with everyone. As a result, he had the brilliant idea of gifting a beautiful poinsettia to his friends for Christmas, establishing a tradition that has been maintained up to today.

The tradition spread quickly all over the country, as did the name “poinsettia” when speaking of this plant. In 1991 the United States government decided to name December 12th, the date on which Joel Poinsett died, as National Poinsettia Day.

If you have received a poinsettia this year here are some tips to keep it looking its best!

Where to position a poinsettia

It’s best to place your poinsettia somewhere facing windows, where it can enjoy indirect light and avoid cold drafts. They shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20ºC) during the day. This is especially important when gifting them during the colder winters in North America and Europe where a cold window can be a matter of life and death for the plant.

While the plant is blooming it’s happiest in the sun but if you want it to rebloom later it will need periods of uninterrupted darkness of approximately 8 – 12 hours daily.

How much water does a poinsettia need?

The plant should be watered regularly and kept evenly moist. However, it’s essential to drain off any excess water after watering. Never let the plant sit in water. If you’re unsure when to water, just check if the soil is dry or not. If it’s dry to the touch

It is very common for leaves to turn yellow and drop off when you first bring or receive a poinsettia in your home, however this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. The plant is simply adjusting to its new surroundings. With proper love and care, it will flourish and bloom.

Does a poinsettia need pruning?

If your poinsettia starts getting too big it may be time to cut it back a little. This isn’t always necessary but after flowering, it can help it to regrow and rebloom. A sure sign that the flowering is about to end is when the leaves start growing with a reddy black colour. This will often happen in the springtime.

If you do cut it back it can be cut down to as little as 10 cm in height. From there it will be able to grow back and bloom just in time for Christmas the next year.

A poinsettia doesn’t need to be just for Christmas. Take care of it well and it can keep things a little Christmassy all year round with its festive colour.

If you want to impress with a poinsettia yourself this year we can send to your nearest and dearest in over 100 countries worldwide. Make Christmas merrier than ever with a beautiful plant delivery.

Caring for your poinsettia

How to care for a poinsettia in bloom


Place your poinsettia in a well-lit room, with as much indirect sunlight as possible.


Keep the poinsettia at normal room temperature, but not above 20°C. Nighttime temperatures of 16 to 17°C are best. Too much heat will shorten the blooming period. Poinsettias are sensitive to extreme temperatures (below 10°C and over 30°C). Avoid placing your plant too close to any heat source or on top of a television. Keep it away from cold drafts, as well, and protect it between the store and your home.

Water in moderation with tepid water when the soil is dry to the touch. Thoroughly soak the soil mixture, but avoid overwatering, as this can cause root rot. Never leave any water standing in the saucer. Allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings.


There is no need to fertilize your poinsettia while it is in bloom.

After blooming, the vegetative growth period begins

Depending on the cultivar, a poinsettia may remain in bloom for four months or even longer. After that time, its bracts will gradually lose their colour. Most people buy a new poinsettia every year. If you want to keep yours as a green plant, or if you are a very enthusiastic gardener and want to try coaxing it to rebloom, follow these tips:

Pruning and repotting

In late April, prune your poinsettia, cutting all the stems back by one third. For a more compact plant, keep only two or three leaves on each stem. Be sure to mist the plant with water to limit the seepage of latex and prevent it from drying out.

Poinsettias do not like to have ” wet feet “. Repot the plant in an aerated, well-drained medium. You can use a ready-mixed commercial substrate or blend your own, using equal parts potting soil, perlite and peat moss.

Prune the plant again in late July or early August, or pinch back the ends of the stems (leaving three or four leaves per stem) to encourage bushy, compact growth. Never pinch a plant back after early September if you want it to rebloom.

Once all risk of frost is past (and ideally once temperatures remain above 13¡C), take the plant outside for the summer. Do this gradually. Place it in a semi-shaded or even sunny spot. If you cannot take your plant outside, give it as much light as possible, even full sun.

After pruning, a temperature of 20°C is ideal. During the growing period after that, indoor temperatures of 20-24°C are adequate.

After pruning, the poinsettia will require less water. Give it only enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Once growth resumes, water as necessary, allowing the soil surface to dry out between waterings. Outside, especially in full sun, be sure not to let it wilt!

After your poinsettia has finished blooming (from late April to mid-September), apply a soluble fertilizer, such as one labelled 20-20-20,* once a month. Once new leaves appear, increase the frequency of fertilizing (every two weeks) to promote vigorous growth.

*NB: Fertilizer with a smaller amount of phosphorus and an N-P-K ratio of 3-1-4 or 2-1-2 is ideal (labelled 17-5-19 or 20-10-20). This type of fertilizer is hard to find, however, so you can also use an all-purpose soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Always follow the directions on the label.

With a few simple poinsettia care tips, its easy to keep these classic holiday plants looking fantastic year after year!

The poinsettia has long been the unofficial flower of the holiday season. The showy colorful leaves are perfect for decorating interiors with big bursts of color.

Although red-blooming varieties are by far the most popular, they can also be found in a vast array of blooming colors ranging from white, to yellow, pink, salmon, orange and more.

And in spite of being mislabeled as a deadly plant to children and pets, (more on that at the end of the article), they really are the perfect holiday plant for bringing big color inside the home.

The red poinsettia is by far the most popular variety for Christmas decorating.

The “blooms” of poinsettia plant are actually called bracts. Bracts are a showy set of leaves that form on top of the dark green foliage of a poinsettia.

Although not a true bloom – it is these bracts that give the poinsettia plant its beautiful color.

Many think of the poinsettia as an annual, and toss it to the curb after each holiday season. However, it is actually a perennial, and with a bit of basic care, can easily be kept year after year.

The poinsettia actually gets it top leaf color from bracts, like these white one on this gorgeous plant.

Poinsettia Care Tips

Start By Selecting A Quality Plant

Look for plants with healthy, dark green foliage. If you want your plant to “bloom” throughout the holiday season, be sure to select a plant with bracts that are fresh and bold.

The more faded or curled the top leaves are at the time of purchase, the less time it has left to stay in full color.

Care During The Holidays

During the holiday season, there are really only two things you need to worry about when it comes to poinsettia care. Watering and room temperature.

Poinsettia plants can survive the winter near a window that can give them at least 6 hours of light a day.

Poinsettia plants perform best in temperatures that range from 65 to 80 degrees fahrenheit. Avoid keeping cool rooms

As with most house plants, too much water is more detrimental than too little.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. This keeps roots from becoming water-logged, which can be deadly to poinsettia plants.

Poinsettia Care Tips – After The Holidays

Most plants will hold their bracts and color well into late January and even February.

Once the plant begins to fade, cut the foliage back to around three to four inches above the soil line.

Don’t be alarmed, your plant will not look very healthy at this point. Perhaps more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree than a healthy poinsettia plant – but all is well.

Place the plant near a window, and within a few weeks, you will see new growth begin to appear.

Spring And Summer Poinsettia Care

When spring arrives, you can move your plant to the great outdoors. Plants can be planted into the ground, but you will need to dig them back up in late summer.

Poinsettia plants need 14 hours of darkness per day for about 6 weeks to from their beautiful color.

For many, it is far easier to keep in pots to keep them mobile.

You will want to prune back your poinsettia plant a few times to keep the growth bushy and strong. Usually once in late April, and again around mid-August will work fine.

A little bit of all-purpose fertilizer at each pruning will help the plants develop strong foliage and bracts.

Getting Poinsettia Plants To “Bloom” Again

In order for the bracts to “bloom” – the poinsettia plant needs to be in a bit of darkness. Like 14 hours of day darkness about 6 weeks in the fall.

poinsettia plants outside

In order to have in time for Thanksgiving – you can start this process around October 1st. A little later if you want perfect for Christmas time.

This can be done by placing in a closet or completely dark area early each evening, and then bringing back out in the morning to receive light from a window.

Keep the plant watered as normal.

Are Poinsettia Plants Dangerous To Pets And Humans?

So – back to this poisonous topic.

For a long time, poinsettia plants have been given a bit of an unfair rap as a poisonous and deadly plant. Especially when it comes to cats and dogs, and small children

Poinsettia plants are not as deadly as many think to pets.

Although they can cause a few discomforting issues when the leaves are consumed by pets or children, they are not quite as deadly as some believe.

Yes, they can make them sick to their stomach – but the symptom’s do not escalate.

Here is keeping your poinsettia plants blooming happily year after year! For more holiday plant care tips – check out how to keep living Christmas trees alive and well : Living Christmas Tree Care

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners – for gardeners!

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Poinsettia After Christmas — Now What?

Is this your poinsettia? Photo: Steve Bender

You loved your poinsettia during the holidays, but (news flash!) the holidays are over. Now your plant is starting to look a little sad. One overarching question courses through your brain. What am I supposed to do with the dang thing now?

Should you plant it outside? Should you grow it as a houseplant? Or should you just chuck it and buy a new one next Christmas? The answer depends on where you live and how much trouble you’re willing to go to.

Outdoors Native to Mexico, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) doesn’t like cold. If you live in the Coastal and Tropical South (USDA Zones 9-11), you can plant it outside and it will grow into a large shrub or small tree covered with blooms each winter. If you live farther north than that, your poinsettia will freeze into mush.

Indoors What about growing it indoors as a houseplant? That’s fine, as long as you accept that it will never be as showy in bloom as it was when it first came from a commercial greenhouse that provided the perfect amounts of light, humidity, water, fertilizer, and growth regulator. Assuming you’re cool with that, as soon as the poinsettia drops its green leaves, do this:

1. Cut it back to 4 to 6 inches tall and move it to a slightly larger pot with good drainage. Add new potting soil to fill the extra space.

2. Keep the soil moist, but never soggy.

3. Provide bright light.

4. Feed weekly with liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

5. Every 3 to 4 weeks from spring until early September, pinch back the growing shoots, leaving only 5 to 6 green leaves per stem. After that, just let the stems grow.

6. Bring the poinsettia into the house in October, before your first frost. In order to set flower buds, it will need 14 hours of complete darkness per day for about 6 weeks. How you provide this is where the “how much trouble you’re willing to go to” comes in. Some people move their poinsettia into a closet when they get home from work and take it out to a sunny window when they leave for work the next morning. Just remember — without 14 hours of complete darkness per day for 6 weeks, it won’t bloom.

7. When you begin to see the bracts at the top showing color, the dark treatment is no longer necessary. Your poinsettia can come out of the closet at last. Don’t be too disappointed if the blooms are sparse and dinky. You won’t be alone.

Heave-Ho! But because Grumpy would be disappointed, I always toss my old poinsettia into the compost and buy a new plant every year. This makes the poinsettia growers very happy.

Christmas, like all holidays, is really made of dreams. Anything is possible during Christmas, and the garden is no exception.

Take a wild weed that blooms in December. This rangy Mexican flower first sold in 1906 at a flower stand in the land of dreams, Hollywood. The radiant red flowers, actually leaves called bracts, became a staple in California homes, and the once unsought weed with the bright red leaves came to symbolize Christmas in America. It is, of course, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).

Those showy colored parts of poinsettias that we think are the flowers are actually colored modified leaves, or bracts. The color is so deep that they are used in fabric dyes. Though some people might get a rash from the sap, poinsettias are not poisonous. An Ohio State University study demonstrated that a 50-pound child who ate 500 poinsettia leaves might, at worst, have a slight tummyache.

But what to do with your poinsettia after the holidays? You can toss it into the compost heap, toss it with the torn wrapping paper or keep the plant alive until next year, as a gift that keeps on giving.

Poinsettias do best with daytime temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees and nighttime temperatures about 10 degrees cooler, at around 55.

Because high temperatures will shorten your plant’s life, try to move it to a cooler room at night. Place your poinsettia in a well-lit spot away from drafts. A south-facing window is ideal.

Check the soil every day, and water about once a week, or when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t let the soil stay soggy.

From January through March keep watering poinsettias only when the surface of the soil feels dry. In early April, reduce watering, so that the soil is quite dry between waterings. Do not let the stems get so dry that they begin to shrivel.

After a few weeks of decreased water, move the plants to a cool spot such as your basement or garage. Try to keep the plants around 60 degrees.

In the middle of May, cut the stems down to about four inches. If needed, repot the plants into pots just two inches wider than the ones they are in. Begin watering the plants daily and move them into bright light. Keep watering whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.

Your poinsettia will begin growing with the onset of spring and summer. Fertilize every two weeks with a liquid houseplant fertilizer.

Once the danger of frost is past, you can move your poinsettias outside. Shield your plants from drying winds and keep fertilizing every two weeks. In early July, pinch off an inch from the tip of each stem to encourage branching; otherwise your poinsettia will get tall and spindly. Pinch back the stems one more time around mid-August.

In September you can bring your poinsettias back indoors. Keep them in bright light with temperatures above 65 degrees.

Because poinsettias set their buds according to the length of daylight, you will need to give them about 10 weeks with less than 12 hours of sunlight per day.

Since most of us use indoor lighting, it can be tricky avoiding extra light on your poinsettias. Try keeping your plants in a room that is lit by sunlight during the day, but has no artificial light at night. You can also move the plants in and out of a dark closet every day. With perseverance and luck, your poinsettia will bloom for many Christmases to come. Even if your poinsettia won’t rebloom, it will remain an attractive, leafy green houseplant. In the middle of a dark winter, even a leafy green plant can be a Christmas miracle in itself.

Caring for Poinsettias After the Holidays

Now that the holidays are over, you may be wondering what to do with those plants that make us think about Christmas- amaryllis, Christmas cactus and of course poinsettias. It seems like stores have a greater variety of colors each year, along with the traditional red. If you purchased a poinsettia or received one as a gift this year, you can turn it into a beautiful container or landscape plant that can be enjoyed for years to come.

The poinsettia is native to Mexico and is technically a shrub or small tree. The colorful flowers are actually leaves, or bracts, that surround the tiny flower in the center. Originally available in only red, now there are varieties in a wide variety of colors and patterns. One expert in the field, Dr. Jim Barrett with the University of Florida, hosts a field day each December to introduce commercial growers to the newest varieties and to evaluate consumer preferences. Dr. Barrett grows more than six thousand plants and a hundred different varieties each year for the field day in Gainesville.

Indoor care:

Poinsettias are easy to care for until the end of winter in their container, as long as you remember that they are tropical. They need to be kept from freezing and cold drafts and grown in a well-lit area. Be careful not to let them dry out too much, but don’t overwater either. After the cold temperatures have passed they will need to be repotted or transplanted to the landscape, where they can grow just fine outdoors here in Central Florida. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are non-poisonous and non-toxic, but they do contain a sap that some people may be sensitive to.

Outdoor care:

Poinsettias grow best in a location that receives full sun. In order to form flower buds and colorful bracts next fall, poinsettias require 14 hours of complete darkness a day. So avoid planting near porch and street lights. Keep the soil moist (but not soaking wet) and fertilize lightly once a month during the growing season. Poinsettias should be pruned during the months that begin with an A (April and August). By April the spent flowers and bracts should be trimmed off and in August your plant should be shaped and any leggy, diseased, or bug chewed branches should be removed. Poinsettias can get a few insect pests or diseases during the summer, but they are generally problem free. Most insects can be controlled with an insecticidal soap product, and diseases can be minimized by keeping the plant’s foliage dry and not watering too late in the day. Many people have former holiday poinsettias that thrive in their yards and create a very attractive shrub that blooms close to the holidays every year.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County at 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brookville 34604. Telephone: 352-754-4433. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. UF/IFAS Extension in Hernando County is a free service that provides solutions for your life. Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

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