Poinsettias: Year after Year

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Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular winter houseplants because they flower in mid-winter, and because their beauty is the result of bracts (persistent colored leaves) instead of flowers, their attractiveness is long-lasting. They bloom naturally under the long night conditions of winter, so it is easy for nurseries to bring them into color in time for winter holidays. The beauty of poinsettias can persist from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and sometimes even to Valentine’s Day. Some gardeners are not satisfied with this long season of indoor beauty and attempt to save the plants to re-bloom the following winter. Poinsettias can be kept year after year, and they will bloom each year if you give them proper care.

When the leaves begin to yellow or when the plant is no longer desired as an ornamental, gradually withhold water. The leaves will pale and fall off. The bracts (colorful leaves just below the true flowers) will be the last to go. Figure 1 shows the parts of the plant. After all the leaves have fallen, store the plant, in its pot, in a cool (50 to 60°F), dry, dark area. Keep the plant somewhat on the dry side; water only enough to keep the stems from withering.

Figure 1. Parts of the poinsettia. The showy part, usually considered the flower, consists of the colored bracts.

In April or May, bring the plant out of storage. Cut the main stems six inches above soil level. Remove the plant from the pot and gently wash the old soil from the roots. Repot the plant in fresh potting soil that has good drainage. Poinsettias are susceptible to stem and root diseases if the soil is heavy and retains excess moisture. Soak the soil well, and then allow all excess water to drain away. Place the plant in a warm, sunny spot for renewed growth. Keep the humidity high to encourage rapid new growth. Once the plant is growing actively, apply a weak fertilizer solution (one tablespoon of a soluble fertilizer, such as 20-20-20 or its equivalent, per gallon of water) at monthly intervals.

After frost danger is past, sink the pot into a protected and sunny bed. Light shade is ideal during the hottest part of the day. Lift the pot occasionally to prevent root growth into surrounding soil. If the plant becomes root bound, repot it into a larger pot. Watch for insects and control them promptly.

Keep the poinsettia plant actively growing all summer by watering and fertilizing regularly. When the top of the soil feels dry, liberally apply water to moisten the soil completely, and allow the excess to drain away. Add no more water until the top of the soil is dry again.

To obtain a bushy plant, pinch the tips of new shoots back leaving at least two nodes on each new shoot (Figure 2). Continue pinching new shoots until late August. Remove weak stems completely, so only a few of the stronger ones develop.

Figure 2. To create a bushy plant, poinsettias are “pinched back.” The tip of each twig is removed (pinched) so that nodes remain. The new shoots that arise from the nodes are also pinched.

If more plants are desired, try propagating poinsettias from stem cuttings taken in place of pinchings. When the new growth is 8 to 12 inches high, cut off 4 to 6 inches for rooting (Figure 3). Leave at least two leaves on both the cuttings and the parent stem so the plant can continue to produce food. Cut in the morning, and place the cut stem in tepid water for one hour to stop the “bleeding.” Treat the base of cuttings with rooting hormone to increase the chances for success. Place cuttings in a well-drained, moist rooting medium, such as a half perlite, half peat moss mix. Keep humidity high for rapid rooting. Place cuttings in bright, but not direct, light. Pot the newly rooted cuttings in a well-drained soil when the new roots are about 1/2 inch long. Care of these plants is the same as care for the parent plant.

Figure 3. Poinsettia softwood cuttings, 4 to 6 inches long.

The parent plant and all rooted cuttings will bloom at the same time. The thicker cuttings will produce larger blooms. Make as many cuttings as desired until late August, but remember, only strong stems produce strong plants.

As cool fall weather begins, take the plant inside to a south window with full sun. Poinsettias do best in full fall sun and the bracts (colored leaves below the flowers) obtain their deepest color in good light. Ventilation is important, but keep the plant away from drafts. Drafts, as well as low temperatures, waterlogged soil, and drought, can cause the lower leaves of the poinsettia to turn yellow and fall from the plant. Night temperatures of 60 to 65°F and day temperatures up to 75°F are recommended. If the night temperature is too high or too low, the plant is likely to flower later.

The poinsettia is known as a true short-day (or long-night) plant. This means that the plant must be in total darkness for about 14 hours out of every day for a four-week period to form flower buds. Beginning in late September or early October, make certain the poinsettia receives no artificial light after nightfall. Even brief periods of light from a single light bulb for one night may be enough to delay or interfere with flowering. If possible, keep the plant in a room without lights, in a dark closet, or under a fully light-proof cover from about 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. every day for four weeks.

Remember to put the plant in a sunny window in the daytime, and drench the soil when the surface is dry. It will probably need watering less often now. Continue fertilizing it monthly until mid-December. The opened flowers last longest at about 65°F.

To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at aces.nmsu.edu.

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Revised and electronically distributed December 2009, Las Cruces, NM.

How long will a poinsettia live indoors after the holidays?

Probably the majority of poinsettias have dropped all their flowers and most of their leaves within 2 or 3 weeks of purchase. With correct care, 6 – 8 weeks is not unusual. However, if you find a plant that keeps looking healthy after it’s dropped its flowers, keeps going as a green plant for several months, you might be lucky enough to have one that will live for years.

How long you can get a poinsettia to live depends on two – well, three really – things: care, variety, and luck.

First, care. For a poinsettia to live even through the usual flowering period, let alone for any amount of time after that, it has to have the correct care. The first step is to start with plants that haven’t been stressed – don’t expect much bloom time from plants that have been sitting near doors where cold breezes get in, or whose soil has become dried out, or has been kept soaking wet. After you get the plant home, good care revolves around watering – soil that doesn’t dry out, but also that doesn’t stay too wet. For some people, this is a real challenge. Basically, feel the surface of the soil every day, and when it’s dry, pour on some more water. If the plant is in a foil pot wrap, make sure there’s not more than 1/2″ of water in there, and it’s all used up before you water again.

Two, variety. Some varieties just last longer than others. It’s just in the nature of plants, and the breeding of different varieties to have different traits. Some are bigger than others, some have larger flowers – (as we probably all know, the red things aren’t really flowers but bracts, protecting the actual flowers that are the tiny red and yellow bits in the middle of the bracts, but for convenience and common usage, we just call the whole big red bit “flowers”) – larger flowers than others, some have different shades and markings than others, etc. So some varieties are going to take to living and reblooming better than others.

Third, luck. One of the fascinating things about plants in general is that they’ve never read a rule book. They’re individual living things, and as such, they can sometimes do things that others of their kind can’t do. It’s also in the nature of plants to occasionally give off a sport, a plant that’s different than it’s progenitors, or that has a branch that’s different than the rest of the plant. So sometimes, when someone has a poinsettia that lasts for years, they think it’s something special about how they care for it, when in reality it’s just that it’s kind of a “Superpoin.”

Poinsettias are perennial bushes in nature, native to Mexico. While the wild plants don’t look alot like the cultivated kinds…

they live for many many years, blooming each winter when the day length shortens and the dark time reaches around 12 hours. So it is in the nature of at least some of them to live for many years.

If you want to keep a poinsettia as long as possible, and try to get it to rebloom, there are lots of articles on the internet that tell you how to do it. I looked at some, and didn’t find any that really tally with my own experience. You don’t have to prune the plant every month, or repot it every 6 weeks, or move it all around your house to get the best light every day, or fertilizer every week – none of that. Also, I’ve never heard of closing it into a cupboard for 3 weeks after it’s finished flowering – some kinds of plants (bulbs like amaryllis, perhaps) respond to that treatment, but poinsettia isn’t a bulb. In nature, it doesn’t usually lose all its leaves, so it has no need to “come back to life.” A plant that responds to that treatment is a really strong and determined individual.

Here’s my contribution to all the “how to rebloom a poinsettia” articles. After the blooming period is over, meaning most of the flowers have fallen off, move the plant to a nice bright (south or west) window if it’s not already in a well-lighted spot. Over the course of the next year you’re going to want to trim back the branches 2 or 3 times, so this is a good time to do the first trim. You can keep the plant indoors if you have lots of light in a window, or you can take it outside when the weather gets warm enough – no chance of frost. I would hold off on repotting for at least the first year, in order to build a strong root system. If you repot in the future, use a nice coarse, good-draining mix, maybe cactus soil mixed with perlite. Water the plant as you would most house plants – that is, allow the soil to get to the ‘slightly damp’ stage between waterings, then water thoroughly to make sure all roots are moistened. Marlie Graves’s answer to How often should I water my houseplants? Fertilize every other month with liquid 1-1-1 fertilizer, mixed at 1/2 strength. If the pot is outdoors, bring it in before the temps get below 40F. As long as it is getting light from the window only, the change in day length as autumn progresses should be enough to trigger change of color. If you feel you absolutely must put it into a dark closet or a box or something, just be sure to put it back into the light every morning – the poinsettia needs light during the day to be able to have enough energy to make flowers.


Poinsettias – Christmas Flowers

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. Brightly colored and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective color in home decor during and after the holiday season. The newer Poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to the cultivars that were available a few years ago. Christmas charm is what these amazing Poinsettias hold.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Malpighiales Family Euphorbiaceae Genus Euphorbia Species pulcherrima

The bright petals of Poinsettias, which look like flowers, are actually the bunch of upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. Poinsettia flowers are small, green or yellow, and grow inconspicuously in the center of each leaf bunch. Poinsettias are sub-tropical plants and therefore wither if the night temperature falls below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). The day time temperatures in excess of 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) shorten the lifespan of Poinsettias.

In colder climates, Poinsettias are grown as indoor plants. As indoor plants, Poinsettias need exposure to the morning sun and shade during the hotter part of the day. Poinsettias are one the most difficult to reflower after the initial display when purchased. Poinsettias need a period of uninterrupted long, light-free nights for about two months in early spring in order to develop flowers.

Facts About Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias are the most popular of the holiday plants.
  • Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and Central America.
  • Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold-splashed leaves.
  • Poinsettia’s botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means “the most beautiful Euphorbia”.
  • Poinsettia was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.
  • Recent research has proved that Poinsettias are not poisonous.
  • Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet.
  • Poinsettias are also known by other names such as ‘Christmas flower’, ‘lobster flower’, and ‘Mexican flame leaf’.

As a result of its importance in the celebration of Christmas and its beautification of America, December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, to honor the passing away of Joel R. Poinsett.

Poinsettias & Christmas

The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico’s early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettia, known as the Christmas flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season.

The Mexican poinsettias are commonly bright red. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decor.

A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God’s eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.

As the poinsettia is one of the most popular potted plants, you may want to purchase one as a gift. They now come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes. Shop poinsettia plants.

from our stores – Pickupflowers – the flower expert

Growing Poinsettias

It is probably best to start cuttings from the original Poinsettia plant, which would then develop into sizes you are normally inclined to purchase at Christmas.

  • In July or August remove three- or four-inch cuttings from the new Poinsettia growth on the plant.
  • Insert each Poinsettia cutting in a small pot containing a sterilized mixture of half sand and half peat moss.
  • Keep the Poinsettia cuttings shaded and watered during the rooting period for about three weeks.
  • Then set the Poinsettia plants in larger pots in a sterilized mixture of equal parts of soil or sand, peat moss, and perlite.
  • The soil in which poinsettias grow should be kept moist at all times, but not excessively wet.
  • Avoid placing poinsettias in areas which receive air movement from windows, doors, fans, or radiators exists. If placed in such locations, they cause premature flower, bract, and leaf drop.

Poinsettia Plant Care

  • Keep your Poinsettia plant near a sunny window where it will have the most available sunlight. Sunlight should be available for the Poinsettia for at least five hours a day. A window that faces south, east or west is the best location to place your Poinsettia.
  • Do take precaution that no such part of the plant touches the cold windowpane which may injure it.
  • Let not the soil in the Poinsettia pot dry out. If you feel dryness of the soil on touching it, do water it until it runs freely out the drainage hole in the container. The pot should be able drain the excess water as waterlogging in the pot is not good for Poinsettia. Waterlogged soil lacks sufficient air, which may result damage of roots.
  • Poinsettias exposed to high light and low humidity require more frequent watering.
  • Maintain the temperature of the location at 65 to 70 degrees F during the daylight hours for Poinsettias to maintain its blooming in a good stead.
  • It is a good practice to move Poinsettias to a cooler place at night but it is not a demanding criterion. Because root rot disease is more prevalent at temperatures below 60 degrees F, do not put the poinsettia in a room colder than this.
  • Poinsettias form flower buds when the days are shorter than 12 hours.
  • Get your Poinsettias to bloom by dark treatment of Poinsettias! Beginning the first of October, protect the plants from light by placing them in a dark closet between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM daily.
  • Exposure to even the slightest amount of artificial light during this period will inhibit flowering.
  • After 40 days of this treatment, the plants can be kept in normally lighted rooms.
  • With water, fertilizer, and 60-70 degree F night temperatures, the plants will flower during December.
  • After the plants begin to drop their leaves, withhold water to encourage dormancy, and store in a cool location (50-60 degrees F).

How To Make Poinsettia Turn Red – Make A Poinsettia Rebloom

Poinsettia life cycle may seem a bit complicated, but this short-day plant must satisfy certain growing requirements in order to bloom.

Where Did the Poinsettia Come From?

In order to fully understand or appreciate this plant, it is helpful to take a look at where did the poinsettia come from. The poinsettia is native to Central America, near southern Mexico. It was introduced to the United States in 1828 and got its name from Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett was the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico with a passion for botany. Upon discovering this shrub, he became so enchanted with its bright red blooms that he sent some to his South Carolina home to be propagated.

What Makes Poinsettias Turn Red?

Many people wonder what makes poinsettias turn red. It is actually the plant’s leaves that provide its color through a process called photoperiodism. This process, in response to certain amounts of light or lack thereof, turns

the leaves from green to red (or pink, white, and other shade variations).

What most people mistake as flowers in fact specialized leaves, or bracts. The small yellow flowers are found in the center of the leaf branches.

How to Make Poinsettia Turn Red

In order to get a poinsettia plant to turn red, you need to eliminate its light. Flower formation is actually triggered by periods of darkness. During the day, poinsettia plants require as much bright light as possible in order to absorb enough energy for color production.

At night, however, poinsettia plants must not receive any light for at least 12 hours. Therefore, it may be necessary to place plants in a dark closet or cover with cardboard boxes.

Make a Poinsettia Rebloom

To coax a poinsettia plant to bloom again, it’s necessary to repeat the poinsettia life cycle. After the holidays and once blooming has ceased, limit the amount of watering so the plant can go dormant until spring.

Then, usually around March or April, regular watering can be resumed and fertilizing can begin. Prune back the plant to about 6 inches from the top of the container and repot.

Poinsettia plants can be kept outdoors in a protected sunny area during summer, if desired. Pinch out the tips to promote branching of new growth until about the middle of August.

Once fall returns (and shorter days), reduce the amount of fertilizer, and bring outdoor plants inside. Once again, limit watering in September/October and give the poinsettia bright daylight temperatures between 65-70 F. (16-21 C.) with total darkness at night with cooler temperatures of around 60 F. (15 C.). Once flower bracts have developed definite color, you can reduce the amount of darkness and increase its water.

Poinsettia Care – How Do You Take Care Of Poinsettias

How do you take care of poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)? Carefully. These finicky short-day plants require specific growing needs in order to retain their Christmas blooms. However, with proper care, your holiday poinsettia should continue to put out blooms, or in the least remain attractive for weeks after.

Holiday Poinsettia Plant Care

Poinsettia care begins with proper light, water, and temperature conditions. During the holidays, while in full bloom, they typically enjoy semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture. Poinsettia plants should be watered thoroughly, taking care not to drown them by ensuring adequate drainage is available. Likewise, avoid letting them sit in water-filled saucers, which can lead to root rot. Adding plants nearby can help increase humidity levels in dry rooms, as will humidifiers.

Once flower bracts have fallen, you have the option of discarding the plant or keeping it an additional year. For those choosing to continue with poinsettia care, decrease regular watering to allow the plant to dry out some. However, don’t let it dry out completely. Also, relocate the poinsettia plant to a cool, dark area until spring or around April.

Fertilizing Poinsettia Plants

Fertilizing poinsettia plants is never recommended while they’re still in bloom. Fertilize poinsettias only if keeping them after the holiday season. Apply fertilizer every two weeks or once monthly using a complete houseplant fertilizer. Provided the poinsettia plant is given the proper environmental conditions, it should begin to regrow within weeks.

Poinsettia Care After the Holidays

In spring, return the plant to a sunny area and water well. Cut back all canes (branches) to about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. It may also be a good idea to repot the poinsettia using the same type of soil. While poinsettias can be kept indoors throughout summer, many people choose to move them outdoors in a sunny, but protected, area of the flower garden by sinking the pot into the ground. Either way is fine.

After new growth has reached between 6 to 10 inches, pinch out the tips to encourage branching. This can be done once a month until the middle of August. Once nights become longer in fall, bring the poinsettia indoors.

From about September through November light becomes crucial in poinsettia plant care. In order to encourage blooming, poinsettia plants require long periods of darkness at night (about 12 hours). Therefore, move the poinsettia to a location where it will not receive any nighttime light or cover it with a box. Allow plenty of light during the day so the plant can absorb enough energy for flowering. Warmer days (65-70 F./18-21 C.) and cooler nights (55-60 F./13-16 C.) are also recommended. Provide semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture once blooming occurs.

Poinsettia Plant Leaves Are Falling Off

It’s important to pinpoint the possible cause in the event that your poinsettia plant leaves are falling off, as in some cases, this can be easily fixed. Environmental factors such as warm, dry conditions are most often the reason for leaf drop. Stress can also be a factor. Keep the plant in a cool, draft-free area and provide plenty of water. If all else fails, the plant may need to be discarded.

Now that you know how do you take care of poinsettias you can keep these lovely plants year round. With proper poinsettia plant care, they will give you many years of beauty.

Issue: December 6, 1999

Poinsettia leaves fell off


I have a question about poinsettias. What do you do when the leaves fall off? Will they grow back? Will they be the same color, and should they be stored in a dark place?


I have a question about poinsettias. What do you do when the leaves fall off? Will they grow back? Will they be the same color, and should they be stored in a dark place? Ron via Internet

If the leaves have fallen at this time of the year, it will be of little use for holiday decoration. The plant will begin to grow after several weeks to a couple of months depending on the environment where it is kept. However, it will not produce the red bracts (the red leaves that surround the little yellow flowers) in time for Christmas.

If this is a new plant that has lost its leaves, the cause is environmental stress – temperatures which were too low, or the plant was allowed to dry too much. It would be best to replace the plant. It is also important to determine the cause of the leaf drop so that the problem may be remedied.

It is possible that the plant was stressed during shipment; however, the problem occurs more commonly once the plant has been brought into a home or an office. It was grown in a greenhouse until it was ready for sale. Once it is purchased, it is often taken to a warmer, darker, drier, environment. Under cool conditions, less than 80 degrees during the day and down to about 60 degrees at night, moisture and light are of less importance (though still important). As temperatures increase, light and moisture in the air become more important. Of course water in the potting soil is also important. At higher temperatures the plant dries more rapidly, so a warm, dry, dim environment is the worst possible situation and may result in loss of leaves.

Too much water can also cause problems. The poinsettia is adapted to dry conditions and readily drops its leaves to reduce dessication; however, overwatering can quickly cause root rot which results in too little water getting to the leaves. This will also result in leaf drop and is much more likely to cause the death of the plant.

If possible, provide for most of the time the poinsettia is kept for decoration – keep it in a cool, humid, brightly lighted room. For parties and other times when it is used for decoration, it may be brought into the warmer, drier, and dimmer environment – just don’t try to keep it there too long. If it must stay in this less desirable environment, pay special attention to watering before the soil dries completely, but not too often. If possible, place other plants nearby so that collectively they may increase the humidity around the plants. Another solution is to purchase the plant only a day or so before it is needed for decoration.

There are also other Yard and Garden articles on poinsettias available from the NMSU College of Agriculture website.

Poinsettias are everywhere around the holidays. Their bright color make them perfectly festive for this time of year. While they don’t love cold weather, the short days that winter brings foster beautiful growth in poinsettias, making them the quintessential holiday plant.

The History of Poinsettias

Before they ever entered the United States, poinsettias had quite a reputation. In the 14th-16th centuries, sap from the poinsettia was used medicinally to control fevers. Additionally, the colored bracts helped to create dye. One fateful day in 1828, Joel Roberts Poinsett, Mexico’s first United States Ambassador, found a bright red shrub by the side of the road. Impressed by the beauty and peculiarity of the plant, Poinsett brought cuttings from the roadside shrub back to his South Carolina greenhouse and the rest is history. Years later, horticulturist William Prescott was tasked with renaming the Euhporbia pulcherrima, as it had become quite a popular plant in the United States. Having recently studied Poinsett’s discovery, Prescott named the plant after Poinsett.

Fun Poinsettia Facts

  • The United States’ economy receives more than $250 million from Poinsettia sales alone, primarily in the six weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • Poinsettias are the highest-selling potted plant throughout Canada and the United States.
  • California produces more poinsettias than any other state in the U.S.
  • Studies estimate that 80% of poinsettia sales are made by women.
  • There are over 100 poinsettia varieties.
  • Poinsettias aren’t always red! They can be pink, white, burgundy, and even marbled!

Have questions about how to care for a poinsettia? Click on one of the following topics to be taken directly to the answer!

  • What is a poinsettia?
  • What should I look for when selecting a poinsettia?
  • What kind of soil is best for poinsettias?
  • Can you plant poinsettias outside?
  • What temperatures do poinsettias tolerate?
  • How often should poinsettias be watered?
  • How much water should poinsettias get?
  • How much light do poinsettias need?
  • How often should poinsettias be fertilized?
  • Are poinsettias perennial?
  • How do I get my poinsettia to rebloom?
  • Why do poinsettias turn yellow?
  • Why do poinsettias lose their leaves?
  • Why do poinsettias’ colors fade?
  • How do you prune a poinsettia?
  • Are the red parts of the poinsettia flowers or leaves?
  • Are poinsettias poisonous?
  • Can I get a rash or skin irritation from touching a poinsettia?
  • How do you propagate a poinsettia?
  • Where do poinsettias grow naturally?

What is a poinsettia?

Poinsettias, or Euphorbia pulcherrima, are a part of one of the largest plant families, the Spurge family. The Spurge family is comprised of plants with simple flowers and varied leaves.

What should I look for when selecting a poinsettia?

When selecting a poinsettia, there are a number of factors to consider. Choose a plant with thoroughly colored bracts and foliage from bract tip to end of the stem. Be sure that the plant is full on all sides and that the bracts and leaves are not drooping. A stiff stem will be fairly indicative of durability. Lastly, check the yellow flowers in the center of the poinsettias. Try to pick plants whose flowers have not yet opened, as this will ensure a longer lasting plant.

What kind of soil is best for poinsettias?

A traditional potting soil is suitable for poinsettias, but it is important that the soil be loose to allow for adequate draining. If the soil cannot properly drain, it will retain water and the roots may begin to rot.

Can you plant poinsettias outside?

Poinsettias can be planted outside, but they are very intolerant of frost. Because of this, you must bring poinsettias inside when temperatures drop below 50℉. Poinsettias grow best outdoors in temperate climates, where they do not experience extreme temperatures on either side of the spectrum.

What temperatures do poinsettias tolerate?

The ideal temperature for poinsettias lies between 65 and 70℉, and they should be kept away from any cold or warm drafts. Frost can be fatal to these plants, so never put a poinsettia in an environment where the temperature may dip below 50℉.

How often should poinsettias be watered?

Water poinsettias only when the top 1-2 inches of the soil feels dry to the touch. It is important not to overwater. If the poinsettia’s pot has a saucer beneath it, make sure to remove any standing water from the saucer.

How much water should poinsettias get?

Like with many potted plants, watering poinsettias is a delicate balance. The soil should never completely dry out, but it should only be watered to the point of saturation. If the plant sits in standing water, it can fall victim to root rot. If your poinsettia’s pot has holes in the bottom, water only until water begins to drain from the pot.

How much light do poinsettias need?

The color of a poinsettia’s bracts is created through a process called “photoperiodism,” meaning the processes are related to the photoperiod or length of day. In order for a poinsettia to change color, it needs twelve hours of darkness for at least five consecutive days. After the color change process has taken place, poinsettias need at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day to maintain their brightest color.

How often should poinsettias be fertilized?

Poinsettias should not be fertilized during the blooming period. In the spring, summer, and fall, they can be fertilized every 3-4 weeks with a half-strength fertilizer. This will promote new growth in the offseasons.

Are poinsettias perennial?

The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. Technically, poinsettias are perennial, but they require some care in order to come back each year. The temperature of the environment is vital for the continued survival of a poinsettia. In warm climates, poinsettias may have no trouble coming back in full force each season. It is especially important that the plants be kept out of frost in order for them to thrive.

How do I get my poinsettia to rebloom?

At the beginning of October, the plant should be kept in complete darkness for 12-14 hours each night for a period of 8-10 weeks. This may require moving the poinsettia to a dark space, such as a closet, or covering it entirely with a box. The poinsettia also needs sunlight during the “reblooming” period. Move the poinsettia to a location at which it can receive 6-8 hours of indirect, but bright sunlight each day. It should be in full bloom by November or December depending on the individual plant’s response time.

Why do poinsettias turn yellow?

Poinsettias can turn yellow for various reasons. In order to best diagnose the problem, look at the roots. If the roots appear healthy, the poinsettia is probably not getting enough water and/or light. If the roots are discolored, the poinsettia may have root rot, often caused by overwatering.

Why do poinsettias lose their leaves?

If your poinsettia is dropping its leaves, there may be a number of factors to blame. Poinsettias are intolerant of the cold, so if the temperature is too low, it may begin to lose leaves. Additionally, poor nutrition or insufficient light can be at fault.

Why do poinsettias’ colors fade?

You might notice that the color of your poinsettia is not as vibrant as it once was. This could be an inevitable side effect of the age of the plant, but it also can be due to a lack of light or temperatures that are too warm.

How do you prune a poinsettia?

The best time to prune a poinsettia is in February or early March. When pruning, cut the stems back so that they remain 4-6 inches in length. 1-3 leaves should remain on each stem.

Are the red parts of the poinsettia flowers or leaves?

Though many think of the colored portion (usually red, but can be other colors) of the poinsettia as a flower, it is actually a collection of bracts, or modified leaves. Where the bracts come together in the center, there are small yellow flowers called cyathia. When these flowers discard their pollen, the bracts will drop soon after.

Are poinsettias poisonous?

Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous. After feeding rats “extraordinarily high doses of various portions of the poinsettias” scientists in an Ohio State University study found the rats to be unaffected. To put the “extraordinarily high doses” in perspective for humans, OSU associate professor Robert McMahon says a 50-pound child would have to eat approximately 500 poinsettia leaves. That being said, you probably shouldn’t go eating poinsettia leaves as a snack. Despite their horrible taste, they can cause nausea or vomiting, especially in dogs and cats. Are poinsettias poisonous to cats or dogs? Not necessarily, but to be safe, it would be best to keep pets away from these plants.

Can I get a rash or skin irritation from touching a poinsettia?

The milky sap of the poinsettia has been known to cause skin irritation and rash, especially on those with latex allergies. Take extra precaution around poinsettias in the case of a severe latex allergy.

How do you propagate a poinsettia?

Propagation of poinsettias is done with plant cuttings. Parent plants should be kept in bright, temperate locations in order to produce healthy stems that will work well for cuttings. When the desired cuttings are around 3-4 inches long with two or three leaves, they can be removed and used for propagation. Strong roots should develop after about a month.

Where do poinsettias grow naturally?

In Mexico, poinsettias grow in the wild as perennial shrubs or small trees. Growing this way, poinsettias can reach 10-15 feet in height.

Ambius often uses poinsettias in our holiday displays. Whether you just want one poinsettia for the receptionist’s desk or an entire poinsettia tree to bring beauty to your lobby, Ambius is here to make your vision come to life. Call us at (888) 665-3686 or contact us online today.


During the holidays, poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant. Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. The milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. When ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in mild irritation. Signs are generally self-limiting and typically don’t require medical treatment unless severe and persistent. There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. That said, due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Licking lips
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness)
  • Eye irritation

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