Poinsettia care is easy! This lovely holiday plant is a joy to have around the house and comes in so many pretty colors. If you’re wondering where poinsettias came from, (a holiday tradition in the U.S. in the 1920’s) you can read more at Poinsettias: A History.
After purchase, take your plant home right away. Don’t leave it in a cool car. Once home, place your poinsettia in a warm room with temperatures above 70 degrees. Avoid drafty areas like the front or back door.
Never purchase plants sold outside of store entrances. The plants may look fine, however the effects of the cold will decrease the lifespan of the plant. The damage may not show for a few days, but includes droopy, darkened leaves and bracts that eventually fall off.
To care for your plant, keep potting mix moist but not wet. Remove the decorative sleeve before watering. Sometimes plants are potted in moisture holding potting soil. Instead of drenching the soil as you would a normal houseplant, just add enough water to wet the top 2 inches when soil is dry. Be gentle with plants, as mishandling causes leaves and branches to ooze a milky sap (which can cause skin irritation in some people).
Are they Poisonous?
If you are worried that poinsettias are poisonous and wondering if you should keep them in your home around children or pets, read Poinsettias Aren’t Poisonous? to find out.
Will My Poinsettia Bloom Again Next Year?
I don’t know of anyone who has done this successfully, but you can certainly try! To get this plant to rebloom, you’ll need to mimic its natural climate. After the holiday, care for your poinsettia like a regular houseplant. Keep it in bright, indirect light and give regular water.
Starting on October 1st, give poinsettias 14 continuous hours of complete darkness each night, alternating with 8-10 hours of bright light. This creates the colorful “flowers” (which are really modified leaves called bracts) that help attract pollinators like bees, wasps, flies. To do this, leave the plant in a dark room that does not have artificial light during the day.
After reading about this process, you may decide to compost your poinsettia collection instead. However, if you decide to keep the plant and try to get it to “color up,” drop me a note and let me know if you are successful. firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published: December 29 2010
Updated: December 23, 2016