How to Care for Poinsettias

Poinsettias bring a splash of festive red and green to a table or windowsill at the holidays. With proper care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants for weeks.

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

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

Poinsettia Care: How to Make Them Last 01:27

Learn what to look for when purchasing poinsettias and find out how to keep them pretty for weeks.

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.

Poinsettia

If they’re keep in a cool spot (but out of drafts), poinsettias can last long past the holidays. Give your plant bright, indirect light and water when the soil starts to feel dry. As with most houseplants, avoid overwatering, and drain the saucer, so the plants’ roots won’t rot. Use a balanced fertilizer every couple of weeks to feed the poinsettia as long as it’s actively growing. Getting the plant to rebloom next year is difficult; most people compost their poinsettias and buy new ones each season. You can also keep them to enjoy as green houseplants after all the red "leaves" drop.

Getting Poinsettias to Bloom Again

With proper poinsettia care after Christmas, 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.

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