Instead of feeling guilty about tossing your poinsettias into the trash once the holidays are over, why not just keep them as houseplants? With proper care, you can keep your poinsettia year-round and even coax it into blooming again. The floral experts at Mission Viejo Florist, Orange County’s best florist, list a few facts about this beautiful plant and steps for caring for it over the course of a year. Plus, check out the hand cheat-sheet infographic at the bottom.
- Poinsettias are named after Joel Robert Poinsett who brought the plant to the United States from Mexico in 1825.
- Poinsettias are tropical plants and in the wild can grow to nearly 10 feet tall.
- Poinsettias are not poisonous to small children and pets as commonly believed unless ingested in large quantities. The plant’s milky sap can be a slight irritant, though.
- Poinsettias come in a range of colors besides red, such as white, cream, pink, and multicolored.
- The brightly-colored leaves are called bracts and are not flowers. The plant’s flowers are small and yellow and are found in the center of the stalk.
Since poinsettias are tropical plants, they need lots of bright light, humidity, and warmth to survive. While your plant is blooming, maintain the below conditions for optimal growth.
- Light: Poinsettias require at least 6 hours of natural bright, indirect light a day. Choose a bright window that is free of cold drafts and keep the plant from touching the cold glass.
- Temperature: Poinsettias prefer temps between 65 and 75 F. They will likely drop leaves if subjected to extreme temperature changes.
- Watering: Water only when the plant feels dry and make sure the water drains thoroughly. Avoid sitting in water. Add a pebble tray or mist regularly to increase humidity.
- Nutrients: There is no need to fertilize your plant while it is blooming. Feeding the plant will come later.
Poinsettia Care Calendar
Follow the below schedule to care for your poinsettia throughout the year and encourage it to rebloom.
Winter: (Jan – Mar) Keep your poinsettia in a sunny window and continue to water regularly when the soil is dry.
Spring: (Apr – May) After the leaves fade, the plant will enter its resting phase until summer. Prune the stems back to 6 inches tall and reduce watering to allow the plant to get completely dry in between waterings. This will lull it into its rest period.
Summer: (May – Sep) Repot into a slightly larger container with new potting soil. When new growth appears, start fertilizing at half strength monthly. Pinch back stems to encourage side branching leaving just 2-3 nodes per stem. The poinsettia can be placed outdoors in a warm, partially shaded area at this time.
Fall: (Oct) Beginning in early October, your poinsettia will need complete darkness, uninterrupted, for 12-15 hours a day. Cover with a thick cardboard box or move to a closet that is dark and will not be opened during this period. During the day, water and feed as usual and make sure the plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight.
Holiday Season: (Nov – Dec) After 8 or 9 weeks of long hours in the dark, you should see flower buds on your plant. Place your poinsettia in a sunny window and discontinue the dark treatment. Proceed watering as usual but stop fertilizing. Now, you can enjoy your fully rebloomed poinsettia for the holidays.
This may seem like a daunting challenge for some and there are no guarantees. Some poinsettias just won’t rebloom. But, it’s worth a try! If it’s not for you, no worries. Your local florist appreciates your support each season when you purchase your poinsettias from them each year.