Poinsettias

Choose your poinsettia carefully. Healthy plants are worth the extra money!
Poinsettias - Articles

Updated: September 26, 2016

Poinsettias
  • Choose plants with clean, healthy, dark green leaves.
  • Check the undersides of the leaves and the place where the leaf connects to the stem for insects and insect damage. Don't buy plants that have pests.
  • Avoid plants with very dry or very wet soil.
  • Avoid plants with wilted leaves.
  • Avoid plants with damaged leaves.
  • Avoid plants with missing leaves.
  • If the plant has a paper or foil wrapper, pull it down to look at the leaves at the base of the plant. Those leaves are important too!

Protect your plant as you bring it home

  • Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold temperatures and drafts. If it is below 50°F or windy outside then put your plant inside a loose-fitting bag.

Treat your poinsettia well throughout the holiday season

  • Hey, it's the holiday season! Be nice to your plants! Don't put poinsettias in cold, drafty, or hot places. Keep them away from cold panes of glass and off appliances, working fireplaces, and heaters.
  • Don't leave the foil or paper sleeve on the bottom of the plant. Leaving the sleeve on can cause the leaves to drop.
  • Water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. Don't over-water.
  • Do you like to have your feet constantly wet? Neither do plants. So, do not leave the plant sitting in water - it may cause root rot and plant death.
  • Do not fertilize poinsettias while they are in bloom.

How to avoid problems with your poinsettias

  • Don't over-water your plants. Only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • Don't fertilize your plants while they're blooming. Don't over-fertilize when the plants are outside. Really nutritious plants are very attractive to pests.
  • If the poinsettia gets whiteflies (look like tiny flies covered with white powder) or fungus gnats (small, dark-colored flies), spray it with soapy water (and then rinse the soap off) or a commercial insecticidal soap. If the plant is infected with spider mites, mealybugs (look like tiny bits of cotton), or aphids, gently clean the leaves of the poinsettia with an alcohol swab.
  • If your plant develops a gray mold on the soil then water it less frequently and move it to a drier, sunnier location.

What do you do with a poinsettia after the holidays?

Option 1

Throw it away. Poinsettias are lovely holiday plants, but they require a lot of work to re-bloom the following year. So don't feel guilty about composting them after you are finished with them. Do feel guilty about putting them in the garbage - please 'recycle' them instead.

Option 2

Save it for next year. Although poinsettias are difficult to re-bloom, you may find it rewarding to keep them throughout the year and force them to bloom for the holidays next year.

To re-bloom a poinsettia

  • Late March or early April: cut your poinsettia back to 4-8" above the soil. Water regularly and fertilize once every two weeks with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer.
  • When the nighttime temperatures reach 55°F you may place your plant outside. Do not plant the poinsettia directly in the ground.
  • Prune the plant in June and July to keep it bushy and compact. Don't trim after September 1.
  • When temperatures begin to get cooler, bring the plant inside.
  • Beginning on October 1, the plant must be placed in a completely dark room for 14 hours each day. You may put the poinsettia in a closet, in a dark room, or cover it with a box. During the day, put the poinsettia in bright sunshine. The poinsettia needs a long night and a short day.
  • In early- to mid-December you should see color on the leaves and you should have a colorful poinsettia for the holiday season.

Prepared by Lana R. Adams