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6 Tips To Keep Your Poinsettias Looking Good This Holiday Season

Poinsettias can be a bit tricky to maintain indoors, even for a few weeks. Here are 6 tips to keep yours looking good throughout this holiday season.

close up of a red poinsettia variegated with pink & white


Alternate title: how to keep your Poinsettias alive through Christmas!

It’s that time of year when these colorful plants make it into our homes and offices bringing us cheer during this winter holiday season.  Something alive and growing in December – it’s a Christmas miracle!   Poinsettias are the most popular plant sold here in the US with almost 50 million pots sold last year.

They’re happily grown in climate controlled greenhouses, sleeved, foiled and sent out on trucks, exposed to cold drafts, crammed together on racks for display – they’ve been through it all before they even get into your hands.  Poinsettias can be a bit fickle so I’m sharing these 6 care tips to keep them looking good throughout the holiday season.

many white poinsettia plants in a greenhouse

A sea of beautiful white Poinsettias happily growing in the greenhouse.

#1  Buy healthy plants.  Poinsettias usually come foiled so peel it back if you can & check the lower foliage to make sure it looks good & that the leaves haven’t yellowed & started to fall off.  The plants should have lots of colored leaves (technically called bracts) with the small yellow flowers in the center still intact & just opening or partially open.  You want to make sure those flowers are still there otherwise, the plants are on their way out.

If your Poinsettias have come in sleeves, be sure to remove them as soon as you get home the so that plants are exposed to light & air.  They’ve been growing a nice, cushy greenhouse & have had a long, not so ideal journey to reach you after all!

close up of a red poinsettia plant

As you can see, some of the colored leaves (bracts) are still turning & the plants will be in full regalia for the Christmas season. The small yellow flowers in the center haven’t opened yet. 

#2  Place your Poinsettias in a bright spot.  They like as much light as you can give them, just not next a hot or cold window.  Near a sunny window, but not in, would be fine.

I’m in a grower’s greenhouse surrounded by bench after bench of Poinsettias talking care.  You’ll want to check it out:

#3  Temperature fluctuation is best.   Poinsettias like it on the warmer (not hot) side during the day & cooler at night.  It can be tricky to find that balance but do your best.  If you turn your heat back at night to say 60 degrees F, then your Poinsettias will be happy.

#4  Strike a balance with watering.  Surprisingly, these plants with the large, smooth colored leaves are actually Euphorbias which means they’re succulents.  Unlike the Pencil Cactus I just gave you care tips for, you don’t want Poinsettias to dry out.  You want the soil to feel slightly moist to the touch.  They will loose their lower leaves & shrivel if too dry.

Conversely, if you keep them too wet, they’ll also loose their lower leaves.  The soil becomes water logged & the roots can rot because people don’t take off the foil or decorative pot when watering.  The water can’t drain out of the pots & your beautiful Christmas plants can die. You don’t want your poinsettia to sit in any water.

It’s hard to give a time schedule but as (very) general rule, water your Poinsettias about once a week.  How often will depend on your home environment conditions – you need to find that happy in between when it comes to watering.

many red poinsettia plants in a greenhouse

These red Poinsettias are timed to go out just after Thanksgiving & will be showing full color by then.

#5  Remove the foil.  You want to take your Poinsettias  out of the foil (or decorative pot) & remove them from the saucer so you can give it a good drink.  Water the soil thoroughly & let it all drain out before placing it back them back in the decorative containers.

#6  Keep them away from heaters & cold drafts.  Plain & simple, Poinsettias don’t like hot or cold air blasting at them.

close up of a Jingle Bells Poinsettia

This is “Jingle Bells”.  Long gone are the days of the red Poinsettias only – there have been so many new introductions in the past 20 years. There’s even an orange Poinsettia now!

By the way, Poinsettias emit a white, milky sap (just like the Pencil Cactus & other Euphorbias) that was once considered toxic.  Everything I’ve recently read now points to fact that this sap is much less toxic, if at all.  Good news indeed if you have pets and are worried about them being in close proximity to these festive Christmas plants.

I love Poinsettias and always have a few in my home during the holiday season to brighten things up.  I’ve kept 1 looking good for almost 2 months so it’s possible if all the about factors are right.  This plant, also known as the Christmas Flower or Christmas Star, signifies success and good cheer.  December 12th is National Poinsettia Day so pick up a few and celebrate the season!

A joyous holiday to you,

Nell's signature
a large red poinsettia plant grows outdoors with succulents & an vine with orange flowers

This is my neighbor’s front courtyard. I love how vibrant the red Poinsettia is against the orange Flame Vine.  And, there’s a few succulents in the mix to.

an 8' poinsettia growing outdoors with very little foliage

Poinsettias actually become small trees & this 1 just a few blocks away from me in Santa Barbara, CA is no exception.  My what a rangy, but colorful, form it has!

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