Poinsettias are the most popular potted plant during the holiday season. For millions of us, it’s not the holidays without a few brightly colored poinsettia plants in our homes. That’s why we all need some tips on how to care for poinsettias.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are excellent plants for natural decoration, and they will easily look great throughout the holiday season with minimal care. Fortunately, they thrive in warm indoor growing conditions.
To keep your poinsettia plants alive and well during the holiday season and beyond, just follow the expert tips on how to care for poinsettias listed below. If you follow these easy steps, your poinsettias will look healthy and happy throughout the holidays.
Tips on How to Care for Poinsettias During the Holidays
1. Start out with healthy plants. When selecting poinsettias for your home or office, choose the plants that have lots of leaves. Avoid the plants that have dried out so much that the leaves are drooping—or even dead.
2. Give them bright light. Poinsettia plants are native to Mexico and Central America, so they are used to a sunny environment. Potted poinsettias do well when placed by a window so they can receive plenty of light. An East-facing window is ideal, because your plant will get morning sun and enjoy afternoon shade
3. Water wisely. Poinsettias don’t like to be constantly wet, and they don’t like to sit in water. Water your plant when the soil starts to dry out—and before the leaves start to wilt. Let the soil dry out in between waterings, but don’t let the soil get bone dry.
4. Keep your poinsettia warm. Any guide to how to care for poinsettias must include temperature requirements. An indoor poinsettia will do best in the temperature ranges between 65 and 75 degrees F. Poinsettia plants do not like dramatic temperature fluctuations, and this can cause the leaves to wilt.
5. Think tropics, think humidity. Because poinsettias are comfortable in tropical climates, they thrive in humidity and appreciate daily misting. An inexpensive spray bottle filled with water does the trick!
Poinsettia Care: Beyond the Holiday Season
6. Grow it as a houseplant. Poinsettias flower best during the short days of the winter months. But even when the colored leaves fade and your poinsettia plant is fully green, it’s still a great houseplant. In the springtime, toss the plastic pot and plant your poinsettias in nice decorative pots. Be the first person in your neighborhood to grow a poinsettia as a year-round houseplant!
7. Expert challenge: getting a poinsettia to rebloom. To encourage reblooming, a poinsettia plant requires long periods of darkness at night (12 hours or more). Starting about October 1, move the plant to a location where it will not receive any nighttime light or cover it with a box from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Give it plenty of light during the day so the plant can absorb enough energy for flowering. When flower buds appear (probably at the end of November), you can stop putting the plant in total darkness at night.
Whether you want to enjoy your poinsettia plants throughout the holidays or throughout the year, follow these 7 expert tips on how to care for poinsettias. You’ll have the happiest and healthiest poinsettias in the neighborhood.
5 Fascinating Facts about Poinsettias
We know this is a “tips on how to care for poinsettias” story. But we couldn’t resist giving you some additional information about everyone’s favorite Christmas plant. Read these fun facts about poinsettias and you’ll be the smartest person at your holiday party.
- The showy colored “bloom” of a poinsettia plant isn’t really a flower. The colored parts are actually modified leaves called bracts. The poinsettia flower is the cluster of tiny yellow in the center of the plant.
- Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family, including poinsettias, ooze a milky sap. This is especially true when branches break off the plant. Some people have an allergic skin reaction after touching the leaves (especially if they are allergic to latex). For some pets, poinsettia sap my cause mild irritation or nausea.
- The poinsettia plant was introduced to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and physician who was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.
- In Mexico, a wild poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow up to 10-15 feet tall.
- Today, more than 100 different varieties of poinsettias are available. The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows about 70 percent of the poinsettias purchased in the USA.
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