How to Care for Poinsettias

Poinsettias bring a splash of festive red and green to the table or windowsill. An attractive bowl, used as a poinsettia planter, makes a cheery winter gift.

A Traditional Christmas Flower

A Traditional Christmas Flower

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Bright and colorful, poinsettias are nearly synonymous with the Christmas season. They provide you with a wealth of opportunities for holiday decorating.

Find the Ideal Spot

To keep them looking good, give poinsettias a sunny, south-facing windowsill or bright filtered light. Don't press them close to a cold windowpane however, because this can damage the leaves. Keep them at about 68 degrees F during the day, and cooler at night, to prolong the display.

Watering and Feeding

Poinsettias should be watered regularly and kept evenly moist. Never let plants sit in water; always empty their saucers or planters shortly after watering.

Getting It to Bloom Again

With year-round care, you can get a plant to perform again. Water it until mid-spring, then let it dry out and allow the stems to shrivel. Keep it cool. At the end of spring, cut all growth to a couple of inches above the soil and repot it in new soil. Water well and keep it warm, feeding it with houseplant fertilizer when new growth appears. A month later, move the plant outside to a shady location, pinching out the growing tips in midsummer, before returning it indoors. Give it a sunny spot, watering and feeding regularly; then from mid-autumn, keep the plant in total darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. It will then re-flower and produce colorful bracts.

Top Tip: Leaf Drop

It's common for a few poinsettia leaves to turn yellow and drop off when you first bring them home. Don't be alarmed — the plant is just reacting to its new living conditions.

Poinsettia Gallery

Many colorful cultivars are available, and grow to about 12 inches high and 16 inches wide.

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