Caring for Poinsettias



Nothing rivals the Poinsettia as a festive Holiday flower. It's the perfect decoration for office parties and family gatherings alike. It's easy to care for, and painless to dispose of after the parties are over. Here's a quick overview of how to care for your Poinsettia this holiday season.


Remember that Poinsettias are grown and enjoyed primarily for their leaves. Poinsettia flowers are the tiny yellow buds you find clustered in the center of the stem (called “cyathia”). The leaves typically start off green and gradually turn color in response to light. They must be exposed to a short-day (9 hours) lighting period to ensure Christmas color. Plant growers are experts at getting this critical timing right so that you can enjoy them over the holiday season.


Poinsettias come in more than 100 shades from red, salmon, and apricot to yellow, cream, and white (but not blue). There are also speckled and marbled varieties with several colors blended together, although, reds continue to be the most popular.


1. Roll Up Your Windows!

Wind and cold are the two worst things your Poinsettia can experience. When transporting your plant, keep it out of the wind. Even a gentle breeze can easily break the fragile stems or damage the leaves.


2. Light The Way

Put your Poinsettia near a well-lighted window where it can get plenty of light. The plant will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can give it. Just don't allow it to touch the glass, as this will cause the leaves to wilt.


3. Water Carefully

Water your plant only when the surface of the soil is dry. Never let our Poinsettia become water logged. Since it is a tropical plant, it is well adapted to dry conditions. It will and will drops its leaves if it gets too dry, but overwatering can quickly cause root rot which is much more likely to cause the death of the plant. You should get into habit of inspecting its leaves. If they're turning yellow or falling off, you're probably not watering it right.


4. Keep It Warm

Maintain your Poinsettia at a moderate temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees F). Winters in North Texas are usually much too cold for Poinsettias to survive outdoors.


5. Prevent Drafts

Keep your plant out of drafts and away from both the fire place and your A/C vents.


6. Don't Fertilize

There is no need to fertilize your plant.


7. Toss It Out

Texas A&M's Horticulture Extension recommends that you do not try to save your plants for the following year. It is a long and time-consuming process to force them to reflower again the following year, and the results, they say, "usually aren't worth the effort since the flowers (colored bracts) you produce won't be of the same quality as the ones you had on the plants last year."


For more information on Poinsettias, visit these resources:

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Archives - Poinsettias

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Update on Poinsettias

Mother Nature Network:


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