Poinsettias add a welcome burst of color and beauty during a time of year when the landscape may be dull or blanketed in snow. These showy plants may be indigenous to Mexico, but during the holidays they can be found in homes everywhere—and with a little care and attention, they can last all year round. Here is everything you need to know about poinsettia care, courtesy of the experts at The Grounds Guys®.
Tips for Choosing the Right Poinsettia
Maximize your enjoyment by choosing a plant that is healthy, keeping the following in mind:
- Avoid purchasing your plant from a store that has them located near the front door. In colder climates, the constant draft can cause damage and stress to the poinsettia.
- Test the soil with your finger to see if it is either bone dry or soaking wet. If you discover either scenario the plant has likely not received the proper care.
- Look for a plant with dark green leaves, and dense, vibrant foliage.
- Check the yellow buds at the center of each flower: if you notice the pollen has begun to release or the buds have begun to drop, the poinsettia is not fresh.
- Pass on plants with yellowed, discolored, or dropping leaves
Caring for Your Poinsettia During the Holiday Season
Protect your plant on the journey home by ensuring it is wrapped well to shelter it from the wind and weather. Once you get there, follow these rules for success:
Poinsettias require a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Place your plant near an east, west, or south-facing window that will provide bright, indirect light.
Safeguard the plant from drafts, while maintaining an ideal temperature of between 65 to 70 degrees during the day and 60 to 65 degrees at night. Exposure to temperatures below 55 degrees or extreme heat from sources such as a heat register, radiator, or appliances can be detrimental to your poinsettia.
These plants prefer moist, but not wet, soil. Remove the decorative wrapper that came with your poinsettia before watering to ensure adequate drainage and check the soil before adding water once the surface area becomes dry. The ideal frequency is approximately once a week.
Extending the Lifespan of Your Poinsettia
Once the holiday season is over you can help ensure your poinsettia lives to see another winter by taking these steps:
December through March - Continue the same standard of care for your plant, making sure it receives adequate levels of light and water.
April through May - Cut back each of the flowering stems to between four and six inches in height. In May, transfer the poinsettia to a slightly larger pot using fresh soil, and water thoroughly. Place the plant in a sunny location where temperatures average between 65 and 75 degrees and continue to water when the soil becomes dry.
June through Mid-September - Once all danger of frost has passed place the plant outdoors in a partially shaded area, providing adequate water and bi-weekly fertilization throughout the summer.
October - Once temperatures drop below 65 degrees return the plant to the indoors and maintain a strict schedule of light during the day, and total darkness for a minimum of 10 hours each night, watering and fertilizing as usual.
November - Buds should appear and darkness is no longer required.
December - Fertilization is no longer necessary, and you can continue to maintain the plant as you did when you first brought it home.
If you have pets in your home, please note that poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats and dogs so place these plants in the best place for their health and your pet’s safety, in mind.
For additional tips to care for your indoor plants, read our blog. The Grounds Guys, a Neighborly company is an expert landscape and lawn care company providing year-round services. If you need help with snow and ice management services this winter, or want the lawn and landscaping of your dreams next spring, contact The Grounds Guys’ franchise location near you!