Poinsettias (Latin name Euphorbia pulcherrima) are the flower of the festive season, most well known for their iconic red blooms that can be used to decorate table centrepieces, wreaths, trees and more – they also come in a range of colours besides red, so check out the full colour palette here!
You can usually buy cut Poinsettia from your local florist during December, but if you’ve bought (or are thinking about purchasing) a potted plant and you’re wondering how to care for it, here are some vital tips to help it thrive throughout winter and beyond! I want to see all of your Poinsettias surviving until at least next Christmas.
5 Poinsettia care tips
1. Don’t buy a Poinsettia from a supermarket
Poinsettias are often placed in draughty store entrances, where they catch the attention of customers, but also where they are blitzed with cold outside air between blasts of artificial heat from the door heaters. These plants have already suffered from damage because of this environment, and will likely die in your home as a result – causing you to believe that you are the problem, when really you’re not!
Above and below are pictures of the Selecta Christmas Mouse and Sky Star varieties of Poinsettia – they’re perfect for that traditional red colour, with Sky Star also featuring gorgeous star-like variegations.
2. Place in bright, indirect light
When you’ve purchased your plant from a reputable plant shop, nursery or garden centre, place it in bright, indirect light. Poinsettias require at least six of bright, indirect light per day in order to thrive. This means placing your plant around three foot away from a natural light source, where it isn’t being scorched by the sun, and isn’t too shaded either.
3. Don’t let it get too wet… or dry out
Poinsettias do not like to sit in water, nor do they thrive in conditions that are too dry. When caring for your Poinsettia, water it when the top two inches of soil are dry, and make sure that it is sat in a pot with adequate draininage so that the roots do not become waterlogged. If in doubt, keep your plant more dry than wet.
4. Got your heating on? Mist away
In the winter, when Poinsettias are most likely to be blooming in the home, they’re also subject to an unnaturally heated environment. To keep them happy, mist regularly with water to keep up the humidity and stop them from drying out. Or- even easier- place in a sauce of moist pebbles.
5. Prune in April
To get your Poinsettia to flower next Christmas, prune it in April to around 10cm tall. Then, repot it in May and keep it in a cool but well-lit area over summer, preferably at a temperature under 18 degrees C, but above 15.
Want more tips for Christmas plant care? Click here for Christmas tree tips and more.
Have you managed to keep a Poinsettia alive for more than one year? Let me know in the comments section below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.