How to plant poinsettias?


It takes professional know-how and the controlled growing conditions of a greenhouse to produce quality blooming poinsettias like the ones you see commercially.

(|The Times-Picayune archive)

QUESTION: I bought several beautiful poinsettias for Christmas. It seems a shame to throw them away. Can I plant them in my yard? — Jessie Williams

ANSWER: Don’t plant your poinsettias in your landscape just because you have them. I generally discard my poinsettias after the Christmas season (for me, it ends at Twelfth Night on Jan. 6). The poinsettias go into the compost pile, and I don’t feel a bit guilty. I think of these plants as temporary decorations like flower arrangements.

However, they can be planted in the landscape and provide years of beauty. Plant them if there are spots where you think poinsettias would look good and fit in well with your existing plants.

The time to plant poinsettias outside is late March, after the danger of frost has passed. Until then, keep the plants in a sunny window and water when the soil begins to feel dry.

Just prior to planting, cut the poinsettia back about half way (even if the colorful bracts are still on the plant). Plant them in a sunny, well-drained location protected from north winds and frost. The south side of a house or wall is usually a good spot. Make sure the location receives no artificial light at night from flood lights, street lights or porch lights, as this can prevent poinsettias from blooming properly.

Poinsettias grow to be fairly large over time (8 feet tall and wide). To keep the plants bushy and compact, and to encourage more flowers, pinch them occasionally during summer.

Pinching means to prune off the tip of a growing shoot. Branches that are pinched will develop several growing shoots where there was just one. Do not pinch or prune poinsettias after the first week in September, as this will delay or prevent flowering.

Fertilize your poinsettias with your favorite fertilizer during the summer, per label directions.

I hate to be discouraging but don’t expect to keep this year’s poinsettias in containers, grow them over the summer and produce a quality blooming plant for next Christmas. It takes professional know-how and the controlled growing conditions of a greenhouse to produce quality blooming poinsettias like the ones you see commercially.


QUESTION: I saved a mirliton to plant this spring, but it has already sprouted. What should I do? — George Lewis

ANSWER: Because severe cold weather is still possible, it’s really too early to plant your mirliton outside now. If you want to give it a try, plant the mirliton in a sunny, well-prepared bed next to something the vine can climb on (a fence or trellis for instance). The large, sprouted end is planted down in the ground at a 45-degree angle with the top of the mirliton just showing above the soil.

Mulch over the planted fruit with several inches of pine straw or leaves to provide some protection from cold. Given the way the winter has been so far, this is very risky.

Another option is to plant the mirliton in a container of potting soil as described above. Place the pot outside in a sheltered, sunny location and bring it inside on nights when it freezes. Or, you can try growing it on a sunny windowsill inside.

Feel free to snip the vine back as needed if it gets too long prior to planting in the ground. Plant the growing vine into the ground in April.

Poinsettias will grow on in your garden

Seeing the thousands of poinsettias on store shelves is a sure sign that the holidays have arrived. Poinsettias are a symbol of the holiday season and can be used in almost any holiday decorating scheme. With proper care during this festive time, the life of a poinsettia can be extended, and it can eventually be planted in the landscape to be enjoyed for years to come.

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.), native to Mexico, were brought to the United States by a man named Joel Poinsett, for whom the plant was named. Poinsettias are traditionally grown as potted plants for use in the home during the holiday season. However, in mild areas of San Diego County, they can also be used as landscape plants. They are considered woody perennials, and when grown outdoors, they usually begin to bloom and turn color as early as Thanksgiving, just in time for the holiday season.

When you arrive home with your poinsettias, keep them in a warm location free of drafts and cold air. If possible, place them in areas where they will receive bright light. Avoid placing plants in extremely sunny, hot and dry situations.

Remove the decorative foil wrapper from the plant’s container and place it on a plant saucer. Poinsettias will need to be watered periodically. If the foil wrapper remains on, it can cause water to collect around the base of the plant, which is a basis for root rot. Only water the plant when the soil is dry. Water them sufficiently, but not too much. If the plant saucer collects water, empty it. Do not allow the base of the plant to sit for long periods of time in the water. Most people kill their poinsettias by overwatering. Remember, this plant came from the tropical desert and is more tolerant of dry conditions than wet conditions. It will not be necessary to fertilize your poinsettia during the holiday season. In fact, high levels of fertilizer at this time will reduce the quality of the plant.


If after the holiday season you want to keep your poinsettias for your landscape, here are a few tips to keep them healthy and ready to be planted outside:

• Throughout the winter, keep the plants somewhat dry and do not fertilize.

• When spring arrives, cut off the fading bracts, leaving 4-6 inches of the stem.

• Begin fertilizing with a well-balanced fertilizer.


• Move the plants outdoors to a partly shady situation.

• After a week or two, plant the poinsettias in a full-sun location.

Poinsettias should be planted in areas where they receive full sun most of the day and no artificial light at night. This includes streetlights and light coming from windows. The reason is that poinsettias need a long, dark period before they will initiate flower buds. Poinsettias will usually set flower buds in early October. If the dark period is interrupted with artificial light, even for a short period, the flowering will be delayed or the plant may not flower at all.

Poinsettias should also be planted in moist, well-drained, fertile soils. Poinsettias will not grow well in overly wet areas. Fertilization, irrigation and pruning are also essential for the growing success of your poinsettias.

With proper care, your poinsettias can provide you with many years of holiday color and cheer. Have fun picking out your holiday plants and enjoy their beauty. Happy Holidays!

Pelham is a UCCE environmental horticulture adviser who works with the San Diego Master Gardeners program;


Poinsettias – Christmas Flowers

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. Brightly colored and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective color in home decor during and after the holiday season. The newer Poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to the cultivars that were available a few years ago. Christmas charm is what these amazing Poinsettias hold.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Malpighiales Family Euphorbiaceae Genus Euphorbia Species pulcherrima

The bright petals of Poinsettias, which look like flowers, are actually the bunch of upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. Poinsettia flowers are small, green or yellow, and grow inconspicuously in the center of each leaf bunch. Poinsettias are sub-tropical plants and therefore wither if the night temperature falls below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). The day time temperatures in excess of 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) shorten the lifespan of Poinsettias.

In colder climates, Poinsettias are grown as indoor plants. As indoor plants, Poinsettias need exposure to the morning sun and shade during the hotter part of the day. Poinsettias are one the most difficult to reflower after the initial display when purchased. Poinsettias need a period of uninterrupted long, light-free nights for about two months in early spring in order to develop flowers.

Facts About Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias are the most popular of the holiday plants.
  • Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and Central America.
  • Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold-splashed leaves.
  • Poinsettia’s botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means “the most beautiful Euphorbia”.
  • Poinsettia was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.
  • Recent research has proved that Poinsettias are not poisonous.
  • Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet.
  • Poinsettias are also known by other names such as ‘Christmas flower’, ‘lobster flower’, and ‘Mexican flame leaf’.

As a result of its importance in the celebration of Christmas and its beautification of America, December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, to honor the passing away of Joel R. Poinsett.

Poinsettias & Christmas

The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico’s early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettia, known as the Christmas flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season.

The Mexican poinsettias are commonly bright red. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decor.

A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God’s eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.

As the poinsettia is one of the most popular potted plants, you may want to purchase one as a gift. They now come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes. Shop poinsettia plants.

from our stores – Pickupflowers – the flower expert

Growing Poinsettias

It is probably best to start cuttings from the original Poinsettia plant, which would then develop into sizes you are normally inclined to purchase at Christmas.

  • In July or August remove three- or four-inch cuttings from the new Poinsettia growth on the plant.
  • Insert each Poinsettia cutting in a small pot containing a sterilized mixture of half sand and half peat moss.
  • Keep the Poinsettia cuttings shaded and watered during the rooting period for about three weeks.
  • Then set the Poinsettia plants in larger pots in a sterilized mixture of equal parts of soil or sand, peat moss, and perlite.
  • The soil in which poinsettias grow should be kept moist at all times, but not excessively wet.
  • Avoid placing poinsettias in areas which receive air movement from windows, doors, fans, or radiators exists. If placed in such locations, they cause premature flower, bract, and leaf drop.

Poinsettia Plant Care

  • Keep your Poinsettia plant near a sunny window where it will have the most available sunlight. Sunlight should be available for the Poinsettia for at least five hours a day. A window that faces south, east or west is the best location to place your Poinsettia.
  • Do take precaution that no such part of the plant touches the cold windowpane which may injure it.
  • Let not the soil in the Poinsettia pot dry out. If you feel dryness of the soil on touching it, do water it until it runs freely out the drainage hole in the container. The pot should be able drain the excess water as waterlogging in the pot is not good for Poinsettia. Waterlogged soil lacks sufficient air, which may result damage of roots.
  • Poinsettias exposed to high light and low humidity require more frequent watering.
  • Maintain the temperature of the location at 65 to 70 degrees F during the daylight hours for Poinsettias to maintain its blooming in a good stead.
  • It is a good practice to move Poinsettias to a cooler place at night but it is not a demanding criterion. Because root rot disease is more prevalent at temperatures below 60 degrees F, do not put the poinsettia in a room colder than this.
  • Poinsettias form flower buds when the days are shorter than 12 hours.
  • Get your Poinsettias to bloom by dark treatment of Poinsettias! Beginning the first of October, protect the plants from light by placing them in a dark closet between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM daily.
  • Exposure to even the slightest amount of artificial light during this period will inhibit flowering.
  • After 40 days of this treatment, the plants can be kept in normally lighted rooms.
  • With water, fertilizer, and 60-70 degree F night temperatures, the plants will flower during December.
  • After the plants begin to drop their leaves, withhold water to encourage dormancy, and store in a cool location (50-60 degrees F).

Plant and Grow Poinsettias in Your Garden

Poinsettias aren’t popular only at Christmas time. With the right care, these traditional holiday plants can shed their shiny foil and bows to become long-lasting houseplants.
You can also grow them outdoors in your garden if you live in a frost-free area. Native to tropical parts of Mexico and Central America, poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are showy perennials that are hardy in zones 9 to 11, and they’re surprisingly easy to grow.
If your poinsettia is growing in a pot when you get it, keep it indoors in a sunny room where the temperatures range from 65 to 80 degrees F. during the day, and no lower than about 60 degrees F. at night. Avoid putting it near air vents, doors and windows, as hot and cold drafts will cause the foliage to drop.
When you water, remove any decorative foil on your plant and let the excess drain out, or cut slits in the foil and use a saucer underneath to catch the overflow. Empty the saucer so the roots don’t stand in water. After your poinsettia drops its leaves, cut the stems back to 4 to 6 inches high and let it go somewhat dry between waterings.
Wait until the outdoor temperatures at night are consistently 55 degrees F or above before you transplant it into the garden. Then give it a spot in full sun with good drainage where the soil has been amended with organic matter. Poinsettias can tolerate some shade, although their branches will grow longer and rangier-looking. Water regularly, if needed, and feed with a complete fertilizer when new growth appears. Always water after you fertilize.
Poinsettias can grow into small, scraggly trees in their native environment, reaching 10 to 15 feet tall, but you can control their size by pinching them back. Start pinching the growing tips in summer and stop about mid-August.
If your poinsettia is going to be a permanent resident in your garden, and you want it change colors in time for Christmas, plant it in a spot that stays completely dark for about 12-14 hours every night starting in early October. Poinsettias need this prolonged period of darkness to rebloom. They’re short-day plants, which mean that decreasing amounts of daylight stimulate their color change.
(Although we refer to the colorful parts of poinsettias as the flowers, those are actually modified leaves, or bracts. The true flowers are the small, yellow buds in the center of the bracts.)
If you don’t have a dark garden spot, cover your plant with a box or some sort of light-blocking material. Any light, even from a street or security light, can affect flowering while the buds are forming. Outdoor temperatures that stay above 70 degrees F. or drop below 60 degrees at this time can also affect poinsettia color—but there’s not much you can do about the weather.
You may have better luck with getting good color if your poinsettia is small enough to dig up and bring inside for the winter. Try putting in a closet or other completely dark room and again, block all light from reaching it for 12 to 14 hours at a time, starting around October 1.
If you leave your poinsettia in the garden, and it’s hit by an unexpected frost, cut it to 12 to 18 inches above the ground early the following spring, or prune it back until you reach live wood. Then start the care cycle over again. With a little luck and effort, you’ll have flowers by the next holiday to brighten your home or garden.

Garden Q&A: Can I plant this poinsettia outside?

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, the weather was unseasonably warm. Now we’re looking at real winter temperatures. One minute, I want to work in the yard. The next, all I want is warm socks. I never know what I should be doing in the garden or when. Other than reading seed catalogues and planning for spring, what should I be doing now?

When volunteers begin their training as Master Gardeners, one of the first things they’re taught is this mantra: “I may not know the answer to your question, but I know how to find it.” In this case, I know both.

It’s not always convenient to clip and carry around the many excellent garden articles you find here at the Times-Union. It would be handier to have one place that has all the information you want at any time of the day or night. The Duval County Extension Office offers homeowners just that. Every other month, the Extension Office publishes “A New Leaf” newsletter available free of charge just for the asking. You can depend on each issue containing a to-do list for the north Florida gardener, along with a things-to-plant list, and interesting articles about current problems or issues faced by all gardeners at any particular time of year.

To receive a copy via e-mail, either e-mail the Duval County Extension Office at [email protected], to have it delivered electronically, or pick up a copy at the Extension Office or a local nursery.

For tech-savy readers, go to the North Florida Gardening Calendar ( This site provides links to other sites with more detailed information on the topic you’re interested in.

Last year, I tried to plant my Christmas poinsettia in the yard after the holiday and ended up with nothing to show for my effort. I followed the instructions I found in a magazine article, but I should have simply thrown the plant away and been done with it. I’d like to try again but I’m a bit gun shy. What do you recommend?

As you’ve already learned, we do things a little differently in these parts. What works in other areas of the country – or even the state — doesn’t always apply to gardens in north Florida. Which is why I always start researching your and every question at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science’s website (IFAS) Solutions for Your Life. There you’ll find answers to questions like this that are specific to our region, climate and the flora and fauna that adorn it.

If you purchased your plant in mid-November, there’s a good chance it will transition well to the landscape. These early flowering varieties will also bloom early in the garden and not suffer the effects of early cold weather, namely wilting at best and die back if it freezes.

Speaking of freezes, if your plant has been outdoors and has been exposed to our recent cold temperatures, it may already be destined for the compost pile. Being native to Mexico and Guatemala, where they never freeze back, they can reach up to ten feet tall and wide. But here, when the temperatures drop to below 50 degrees, leaves drop and poinsettias often die.

If your plant has been indoors and is still healthy and green, the Christmas poinsettia can keep its color for months, even all the way to March. Keep the soil moist and the light bright, but don’t fertilize it until you’re ready to put it in the garden.

Then, as the weather warms up, trim the fading bracts — the colorful adapted leaves that we often consider the flower. Leave 4- to 6-inch stems above the soil and move it outdoors to a somewhat shaded area.

After a week or two of adapting to outdoor conditions, move the pot to increase the light level. Its permanent site should be in full sun and protected from artificial light at night. Remember that the plant will want 14 hours of darkness for 6-8 weeks to trigger flowering next fall.

Poinsettias want to remain moderately moist in well draining, fertile soil. They aren’t very picky about the type — sand, muck or clay — as long as it’s well drained. A healthy layer of mulch will be helpful to maintain the soil moisture.

In north Florida, you’ll begin using a well-balanced fertilizer (one with the first and third number equal and the middle number lower) monthly starting in May and continue through September as directed on the label.

In summer, when the previously pruned plant has new growth of 4-5 inches, you can propagate it by taking cutting. Take a 3- to 4-inch cutting with 2 or 3 matures leaves and place is a moist, sterile potting medium. Keep it in a warm, bright location and in 3-4 weeks it will have a healthy root system.

Whether you propagate cuttings or not, the poinsettia will be bushier and more attractive if you prune it at least twice a year around Memorial Day and Labor Day.

If you forget all this before March rolls around, and for complete care and pruning instructions, remember that UF IFAS site is just a click away. Search for “Poinsettias at a Glance” ( for complete details.

Paula Weatherby is a Master Gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS. For gardening questions, call the Duval County Extension Office at (904) 255-7450 from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and ask for a Master Gardener.

Nothing says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. Bold and beautiful, the poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has bright petals that contain small flowers of green and yellow at the center. Poinsettias come in a range of colors from white to orange, but are most popular in their red variety.

The poinsettia plant is native to Central America where it was used by the Aztecs for decorative and medicinal purposes. Today the poinsettia serves as a decorative element everywhere from beautiful churches to the porches of homes. In order to keep its bright and cheery appearance the poinsettia must be given proper care.

That is why we have created a poinsettia care guide for those that want to decorate their homes this holiday season. We have even included tips on how to re-bloom your poinsettia once the holiday season has passed.

How to Care for Your Poinsettia

Poinsettia plants grow best during the winter months, which is why they are the most popular potted plant during the holidays. And, with good care, a poinsettia plant can maintain its beauty for much longer than the Christmas season. Since poinsettia plants are from the tropics, they prefer surroundings that simulate that type of environment. Here are some tips on how to keep your poinsettia beautiful year round.


Because poinsettias are from the Central America, they are used to a fair amount of sun. We recommend placing yours by a well-lit window, so that it can receive the proper amount of sunlight. East-facing windows are best so that they can catch the morning’s glow and bask in the afternoon’s shade. Make sure that no part of your plant touches the window pane, as this may harm the poinsettia.


How often do you water a poinsettia? You should water your poinsettia whenever you feel the soil is dry or you see that some of the leaves are wilting. The key is to let the water drain out the bottom, and make sure that your poinsettia is not sitting in water. If the area you are keeping your poinsettia in tends to be dry, you may find yourself watering it daily.


To maintain your poinsettia bloom, keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to protect them from dramatic temperature drops as this will cause their leaves to prematurely wilt. For best results, keep your poinsettia in a warm room and mist it daily. This will simulate the tropical climate that it originated from.

How to Rebloom Poinsettias After Christmas

Re-blooming a plant is never easy and re-blooming a poinsettia plant is no exception. While this can be done, it requires greenhouse-like conditions with hands-on care. Do not worry if you are unable to get your poinsettia to rebloom your first time. It is a tedious process that requires lots of care and patience. Here are some tips on how to re-bloom your poinsettia, broken down month by month:

  • January – March: Continue to water your poinsettia whenever you find that the surface is dry.
  • April: Begin gradually decreasing the amount of water that you give your poinsettia. You should allow the soil to get dry between waterings. However, you want to avoid allowing the stem to shrivel up as this is a sign that it is dying. After a week or two has passed, move your poinsettia to an area with no sunlight for about 12-15 hours every night and keep the plant at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • May: In mid-May, re-pot your your plant with new soil, making sure to cut back the stems to about four inches. Then, place your plant in a nicely lit window and water it well. Your plant should be kept at a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and should be fertilized every two weeks.
  • June: Now, keeping your poinsettia in its pot, move it outside into a partially shaded location. Continue the same watering and fertilizing process as before.
  • July: Begin pinching back each stem about one inch. This is done with your hands and forces the plant to grow new stems and prevents it from growing too tall and lanky.
  • August: Continue pinching new stems and leaving three to four leaves on each branch. By mid-August, bring your poinsettia plant back inside. Place it in a window with direct sunlight and continue the same watering and fertilizing routine.
  • September: Make sure your plant’s temperature stays above 65 degrees Fahrenheit and continue watering and fertilizing your plant regularly.
  • October: Now comes the really hard part. Starting October 1st, keep your plant in total darkness from 5p.m. to 8a.m. We recommend putting your poinsettia in a closet to avoid any light seeping in. Any sort of exposure to light can delay the blooming process. During the day, place your poinsettia in a sunny window and continue the regular watering and fertilizing process.
  • November: Continue the above process until the last week of November. Once you reach the last week, you should begin to see flower buds. During this time, you can stop putting your plant in complete darkness and just keep it in the well-lit window.
  • December: About mid-December, you can stop fertilizing your plant. If everything went as planned, your poinsettia should be back in bloom and you can begin caring for it like you did when you first got it.

It is important to note that because poinsettia are mildly poisonous plants, it is recommended to keep them out of a child or pets reach. Now that you know the basics of poinsettia care, get started on taking care of yours now. They work great as centerpieces or as a unique way to incorporate floral into your holiday décor!

Poinsettia Care: a Quick Guide

To make things a little easier and to help you remember the basics of poinsettia care, we have created a handy guide that goes over the fundamentals.

Sources: |

Can Poinsettias Grow Outside – Caring For Outdoor Poinsettia Plants

Many Americans only see poinsettia plants when they are wrapped in tinsel on the holiday table. If that’s your experience, it’s time you learned about growing poinsettia plants outside. If you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, you can begin planting poinsettia outdoors. Just be sure that cold temperatures in your area don’t drop below 45 degrees F. (7 C.). For more information about poinsettia plants outdoors, read on.

Can Poinsettias Grow Outdoors?

Can poinsettias grow outdoors? And how? Yes. In the right climate and with the right planting location and care, these bright Christmas favorites can shoot up to 10-foot shrubs in rapid order.

If it’s your potted holiday plant that makes you ask about planting poinsettia outdoors, you have to start treating the plant well from the moment it arrives. Water your potted poinsettia when the soil starts getting dry and place it in a sunny location in your home, protected from air currents.

Growing Poinsettia Plants Outside

When you start planting poinsettia outdoors, you’ll have to find a location with similar attributes. Poinsettia plants outdoors must have a sunny corner to call home, somewhere protected from harsh winds that can damage them quickly.

When you are growing poinsettia plants outside, choose a spot with slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Be sure it drains well to avoid root rot.

Don’t transplant poinsettia plants outdoors right after Christmas. Once all of the leaves have died back, prune the bushes back to two buds and keep it in a bright location. You can start planting poinsettia outdoors after all chance of frost has passed.

Caring for Outdoor Poinsettia Plants

Caring for outdoor poinsettia plants is not very time consuming or intricate. Once you see green shoots in spring, start a regular watering and feeding program.

If you opt to use water soluble fertilizer, add it to the watering can every other week. Alternatively, use slow release pellets in spring.

Poinsettia plants outdoors tend to grow tall and leggy. Prevent this by regular trimming. Pinching back the tips of new growth creates a bushier plant, but the bracts themselves are smaller.


If you plan to or already have planted outdoor Poinsettias, the beauty of these plants will continue to amaze you every winter season! They can make wonderful accent pieces or flowering hedges in landscapes, and are also often kept in containers on decks and patios or are displayed inside the home as cut flowers (if you are keeping your Poinsettias indoors, be sure to check out our last blog post that details everything you need to know for indoor Poinsettia care).

But in order to ensure your Poinsettia plants keep coming back time and time again, there are a few key tips and tricks you need to know when caring for this aesthetic plant. Lucky for you, we at Perfect Plants know a thing or two about these well known and loved Christmas season beauties! Here are some of our need-to-know tidbits on all things Poinsettia.

Poinsettia Care Outdoors

When should I plant my Poinsettia?

You should opt for planting your Poinsettias in early spring. If you have a potted Poinsettia, you can remove it from its container and plant it outdoors after the winter season.

Planting Poinsettias

Poinsettias should be placed in an area that is exposed to full sun for most of the day, but that will be completely dark during the night. In order for the plant to begin flowering buds, Poinsettias require an essential period of darkness each day. Poinsettias typically begin budding in October when the time changes and the nights are naturally longer. Just be sure that the area you plant your Poinsettia is out of reach from light sources such as street lights or windows that could interrupt the dark period at night—even a small amount of light during this dark period can interrupt and delay its flowering.

Poinsettias prefer moist and well-drained soils, but can still bloom in sand, muck and clay. The most important factor is ensuring that the soil is well drained, as Poinsettias will not grow in wet areas. Poinsettias grow in many soil types across the United States. They can even grow inside in a sunny window.

When planting, dig a hole that is about 1 foot wider and 6 inches deeper than the Poinsettia’s root ball. Cover the hole with an amount of soil that was similar to the plant’s previous container. Be sure to water during the planting process to eliminate air pockets. Firm the soil to avoid the plant from settling.


Fertilization is essential to Poinsettia vitality. If you don’t fertilize your Poinsettias, you can expect yellow leaves and will end up losing the lower portion of the leaves. Begin fertilizing the plants in early March if you live in a warmer climate, or early May if you live in a cooler climate. Fertilize your Poinsettias monthly with approximately 2 pounds of a complete fertilizer for every 100 square feet. Continue fertilizing monthly until October in warmer climates or September in cooler climates.

Periods of dryness for Poinsettias can be devastating, so watering your plants is imperative. Keep a close eye on the plants, and when they appear or feel dry to the touch, it’s time to water! A good rule of thumb is to also keep the soil moderately moist at all times.

Pruning your Poinsettias

After the winter season, you should prune your Poinsettias back approximately 11 to 18 inches from the ground. If your Poinsettias have been frozen below this area, they will need to be cut back completely. You should pinch the plant during growing season to promote a healthy, full plant. Without pinching, your Poinsettia will become long and wispy with few blooms.

When new growth has grown to around 12 inches in length, cut or pinch the new growth back and leave 3-4 leaves on each stem to ensure the plant’s growing process is not hindered. Repeat this process until the beginning of September.

In October, your well-cared for Poinsettias will begin to bloom and blossom and the red flowers the plant is known for will once again turn heads all winter season! When temperatures drop, move the plant or cover it with a blanket.

Let us know if you have any gardening questions about your poinsettias.


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