Choosing and Caring for a Poinsettia Plant

Updated on December 9, 2017
Red poinsettias are the most popular.
Red poinsettias are the most popular. | Source


When most people think of poinsettias, they think about bright red plants with huge red blooms. Hybridizers now have developed the plants into many pastel colors. My favorite is still the big red ones. Here you will find all the information you will need to purchase, care for, and get your poinsettias to re-bloom.

Purchasing the Plant

If possible purchase a plant that does not have plastic wrap around the leaves. The plastic puts off gases that aren’t good for it and will cause leaf drop. If your only choice is a plant wrapped in plastic, remove it as soon as you arrive home. If the plant is already dropping leaves at the store. Don’t purchase it. The poinsettia will never recover.

Look to see if the plant has little yellow blooms in the middle of the red leaves. The yellow blooms are actually the flower of the plant. If these aren’t present the plant is already old.

Look for white flies. Turn the leaves over and if you see little white bumps on the bottom of the leaves or little white flies, put the plant right back and don’t purchase. Don’t purchase another poinsettia from the store either, because even though you can’t see the white flies on other plants, they will soon be infested.

Keep the plant covered with a shopping bag after purchasing it if it will be exposed to winter weather conditions. In cold areas, make sure that it is exposed to cold air as little as possible when transporting it home. Never place it in a cold trunk. Poinsettias don’t like temperatures below 50 degrees.

You'll find many plants to choose from.
You'll find many plants to choose from. | Source

Light Requirements

Because a poinsettia is a tropical plant, originally from Mexico, it thrives on large amounts of sunlight. The plant needs at least 6 hours of sunlight. Placing the plant in any window except a north one should do the trick, but be sure the window is not drafty. If you plan on growing these plants all year, you may need to add some extra light from time to time with a plant light. However, I have seen them grown without one in Michigan where we get many cloudy days in the winter.

Temperature Requirements

Your poinsettia will do best if it is kept at a room temperature between 68-70 F. Keep the plant away from cold drafts and direct heat. Keep it away from your cooking range, fireplaces, or ducts.

Water and Fertilizing

Water and Moisture Needs

When the soil is dry be sure to water the plant with slightly warm water. Keep it in a container that will let the water drain after watering. If the plant is purchased with a decorative covering around the pot, be sure to remove it when watering so that it can drain. Over-watering is a sure way to make your plant sick, so don’t overwater.

Poinsettias also like a high level of humidity, so place in a humid place if possible.


Don’t fertilize your plant while it is blooming. Wait until it has finished blooming and then fertilize with a well balanced all-purpose fertilizer. Growers use a diluted plant fertilizer which they use on the plant when watering once a week.

Getting Your Poinsettia to Rebloom

Poinsettias will thrive for years and rebloom each year if they receive the proper care. Around late March or early April, cut your plant back to 8”. Continue caring for the plant, watering and letting it have proper light and keep in the proper temperature. At the time of pruning, fertilize again.

You should see new growth around the end of May. Continue watering. When the outdoor temperatures never go below 55 degrees, you can place your plant outdoors. Be sure the plant is placed in indirect sunlight because, direct sun may burn the leaves. Don't forget to keep the plant fertilized.

The poinsettia may become bushy with the extra sunlight. You should prune the plant no later then the second week in September. Prune off any spindly growth and leave 4-6 leaves on each branch.

Around the beginning of June you may need to transplant your plant into a bigger pot. The pot that you choose should not be any larger than 4” bigger than the original pot. The best soil to use is peat moss or other soil that is high in organic materials. If you live in an area where the temperature stays mild year round, you can plant the poinsettia in your garden. Temperatures should stay above 55 degrees however.

If you would like Christmas bloom, you should keep your plant in an area where there is no light whatsoever for at least 14 hours, starting in late September thru October first at the latest. If no room in your house will provide these conditions, you can cover the plant with something during this time. You will need to continue this treatment for about 10 weeks.

During October through December, your plant will need at least 6-8 hours of filtered sunlight during the daytime hours. Also be sure that the plant is kept at the correct temperature range between 60-70 degrees F.

If you follow all of these instructions, you should have a blooming plant before Christmas. Now, sit back and enjoy.

Are The Leaves Poisonous?

I hesitated about purchasing a poinsettia this year because we have dogs in the house. An old wife’s tale is that the leaves are poisonous. This isn’t true at all. A child would have to eat so many leaves that it would be impossible for the plant to be toxic. A death from eating poinsettias has never been documented.

It is possible to get a stomach ache from eating the leaves, but because they have a terrible taste, no one would ever eat more than one and they would spit it out to get the taste out of their mouth.

If you are allergic to latex, you may want to keep your hands off of the leaves of these plants. Some people that are allergic to latex are also allergic to the leaves of these plants.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Barbara Badder


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      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

        Joanne, Thanks for reading. I enjoy them at Christmas too.

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

        pinot2011, Thanks.

      • profile image

        Joanne M Olivieri 5 years ago

        Poinsettias are just so pretty and my favorite holiday flower. Some very useful information on here and many things I did not know.

      • pinto2011 profile image

        Subhas 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

        Hi Barbara! This hub contains a whole lot of information which is certainly going to help a lot ponsettia plant lovers.

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

        purl3agony, Thanks for reading the hub and thanks for pinning it.

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

        Mary615, Of course you can link it. Thanks for sharing too.

      • purl3agony profile image

        Donna Herron 5 years ago from USA

        Wonderful information. Thanks for sharing. Pinning your hub now :)

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

        I just came back for a reread. I'm getting ready to repot the two that I have, and hope they will bloom again this Christmas. I have one that is now 3 years old and it reblooms each Christmas, but it is now root bound and must be repotted.

        May I link this Hub into the one I wrote about my Poinsettia?

        I am resharing this Hub.

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

        Thelma, Thanks for reading this hub too. They are beautiful flowers.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

        I love Poinsettia plant especially during Christmas time. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this one of my favorite flowers. Have a nice day!

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

        Susan, Thanks for reading and good luck with your next poinsettia.

      • profile image

        susanm23b 6 years ago

        This is a very informative article! We usually buy at least one poinsettia at Christmas. I think they are beautiful--except when they put glitter on them :( ! They are so lovely just as they are... anyway, I have always wanted to try to get one to bloom again but have never had the patience. Your hub has inspired me to try. Bookmarking for next Christmas :) Voted up!

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

        A poinsettia tree is just a plant that has had the bottom branches removed until it looks like a tree. If new branches form, keep them removed, but wear gloves when you do this. Otherwise take care of it the same as you would the plants.

      • profile image

        Marylou 6 years ago

        I was wodering if the care would be the same for a poinsettia that is tree like as the regular ones?

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

        mary615, Thanks for commenting on the hub. I didn't include houseplants on the hub about dogs. Maybe I should. I'll have to see your hub about poinsettias.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

        Hi, I just read your Hub of the Day, and made a comment about the Poinsettia maybe being toxic to dogs. I guess you've answered that concern here. Thanks. I wrote a Hub about a huge poinsettia that I got as a gift. It's the biggest one I've ever seen. Good Hub on one of my favorite plants.

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

        Kitty Grey, I grew a poinsettia that I was given this year. You wouldn't believe how much they grow in a year. I am still awaiting the blossoms yet. Thanks for reading the hub.

      • Kitty Grey profile image

        Kitty Grey 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

        This is a refreshingly thorough resource for poinsettia care. If I ever endeavour to raise one of those lovely plants, this is where I'll be headed!

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 7 years ago from USA

        Gifted Grandma, Be sure to notice that only some people allergic to latex shouldn't touch the leaves of the poinsettia. You may be fine and then again you may be allergic to it. I wouldn't experiment myself though.

        I've read that some cactus can cause the same problem. You'll need to do some research into it if you have any.

      • GiftedGrandma profile image

        GiftedGrandma 7 years ago from USA

        I am allergic to latex! My neighbor brings me one each year ;O)She would be horrified to know that as she is elderly. Will keep it to myself. I will have to remember that. I'm always wondering what causes different body reactions to me now..hummmm

      • Barbara Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 7 years ago from USA

        LillyGrillzit and mega1, I'm happy I helped.

      • mega1 profile image

        mega1 7 years ago

        Thanks! This was just the info I needed today to keep our big poinsettia looking so beautiful.

      • LillyGrillzit profile image

        Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

        Thank you for sharing these great tips for caring for poinsettias. Thank you!


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