​How to Care for Poinsettia Plants

​How to Care for Poinsettia Plants

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Shifrah Combiths
Dec 13, 2017

Contrary to popular practice, poinsettia don't have to be holiday decor "throw-away" plants. Instead, with a bit of attention, you can not only keep your poinsettias looking good for longer, but can even help them re-bloom in time for next year's festivities (or re-gifting; joking). Whatever you do with your poinsettias, understanding what makes them thrive can keep them beautiful well past the holidays.

Where Should I Put My Poinsettia?

Place your holiday poinsettia in a bright, sunny location. Poinsettias love a humid environment, so keeping them near other poinsettias or close to other plants helps to preserve their humid micro climate. Make sure to keep your poinsettia outside of any drafts, whether they are cold drafts from outside doors or warm drafts from heater vents.

How Much Should I Water My Poinsettia?

During the winter, poinsettias do not like to get too dry. Also make sure that your poinsettia drains well, as they are susceptible to root rot. If there is wrapping paper around your poinsettia, poke holes in the bottom and place it in a plastic saucer to let excess water drain. Keep this same balanced watering schedule (watering when soil is dry, not letting soil stay dry, and making sure drainage is good) throughout the year.

(Image credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

When Should a Poinsettia Be Cut Back?

Poinsettias only need to be cut back if you're going to attempt to overwinter them (and why not try?) Trim all the way down to one or two buds, or to about 4 to 6 inches tall, once the colorful leaf bracts fall off. This usually occurs in early spring, right after lateral growth begins.

When new growth begins a few months later, pinching your poinsettia back will give you a bushier plant, but your colorful leaf bracts may be smaller.

Outdoor poinsettias tend to grow leggy, so they should be trimmed regularly.

Do Poinsettias Like Sun or Shade?

It depends. During the holiday season, when poinsettias are everywhere, the plants like bright, filtered sunlight. South-facing windows are ideal. You can keep your plant here through the spring and summer, even taking it outdoors once temperature are consistently above 45 degrees.

Once the following fall arrives, however, it's key that the plant receives a minimum of 12 hours of total darkness every night. To achieve this, put a box over your plant or move it to a dark closet overnight.

When blooming begins, you don't have to move it any more. Give yourself a gold star because you've sustained your poinsettia into a second holiday season.

Do Poinsettias Need Sunlight?

Yes. Poinsettias are tropical plants and love sunlight. During winter, poinsettias love bright, filtered sunlight. However, to achieve re-blooming, poinsettias must have an 8 to 10 week period of long, dark nights. With the arrival of fall, put a box over your plant or place it in a dark closet every night from around 5PM to 8AM. Continue this until re-blooming begins.

Can You Keep a Poinsettia Outside?

Yes, if temperatures remain above 45 degrees or you protect them from freezes. Predictably, they enjoy the same conditions outdoors that they do indoors, namely a bright, sunny location that is shielded from wind. If planted in the ground, which is recommended in zones 10 through 12, poinsettias prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

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