Want to learn how to care for poinsettias so they survive the holidays and thrive beyond? Explore how to keep a poinsettia alive after Christmas with these tips.

Poinsettias are gorgeous holiday plants, aren’t they? They are so festive, and fun, and there are so many varieties to choose from now. I picked up a few poinsettias for Christmas from the nursery and want to give them the best care possible so thrive.

Believe it or not, while we often think of poinsettias as Christmas plants, they can bring joy to your home far beyond the holidays (even all year round!).

Have you bought yours yet?

If so, here are a few poinsettias care tips to keep them happy and healthy.

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About Poinsettias

The poinsettia plant is a popular holiday plant that comes in a variety of colors, brightens up any winter decor, and can be treated like a house plant.

It is the Christmas star of the holiday season as they are popular plants that come in a range of colors. They can be found at garden centers, nurseries, a big box store (like Home Depot or Lowes), or local market around the last week of November and the winter holidays.

Also known as euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettias are widely popular during the Christmas season and are often given as gifts. They are tropical plants that grow wild in the deciduous forests of Central America.

The origin of poinsettias as a Christmas flower in the United States is believed to date back to the early 1920s, after the entrepreneurial Ecke family developed a way of growing the plants in large quantities indoors and began marketing them as a holiday plant.

Now, more than 100 years later, poinsettias are still a popular holiday tradition. To keep your poinsettia looking beautiful far beyond Christmas morning, keep reading for the ultimate guide to poinsettia care.

close up of red poinsettia plants
Red Poinsettia Plants

Basic Poinsettia Care Tips

With some care, poinsettias can continue to thrive after the holidays and possibly re-bloom next Christmas with the proper care.

But poinsettias can be fussy to maintain throughout the year. Have you ever done it before?

Here are some tips on how to care for poinsettias and keep them happy during the holiday season and beyond.

garden blogger stacy ling shopping for poinsettias at garden nursery

Cover Poinsettias Well Before Transporting

If you are choosing your own poinsettias, make sure they are wrapped well before venturing into the cold. Poinsettias can suffer if exposed to a low daytime temperature or nighttime temperatures, even for a few minutes.

Don’t forget to unwrap the plant once you get it home. While they often come wrapped in festive foil that looks pretty, it is healthier for poinsettias to unwrap it from the foil and set it in a plastic saucer or re-pot it in fresh potting soil.

Note: Keeping the foil wrapped around the plastic pot will retain water and rot the roots.

Pink and white poinsettia plants
Pink Poinsettia Plant

The Best Growing Conditions for Poinsettia Care

Ideal room daytime and night temperatures to keep poinsettias in bloom is between 65-70 degrees F. For the best poinsettias care, they should be in a room with lots of bright, indirect light.

Where is the Best Place to Put a Poinsettia?

Place them near a sunny window that gets full sun so the poinsettia flower receives the most available sunlight. A window that faces south, east, or west is better than one facing north.

Also, keep them away from a cold window, drafts, and appliances. Do not place poinsettia flowers on a hot or warm surface. Because hot or cold drafts can cause premature leaf drop. And move poinsettias to a cooler spot at night if possible.

close up of colorful red and cream bracts on a poinsettia plant
Red and Cream Poinsettia Flower

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front entry hall christmas tree 2023

How to Water Poinsettia Plants

This is by far one of the most common questions I see about poinsettias. Luckily, watering them is fairly simple if you have the right tips.

How Often Do You Water a Poinsettia?

For best results, water poinsettias only when dry and do not let the plant sit in water or the roots will rot. While they enjoy regular watering, too much or not enough water can be a bad thing.

To determine when to water, check daily. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, water until it flows from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

And whatever you do, do not leave the plant standing in water.

Make sure you allow the excess water to drain out. Because that’s a surefire way to slowly kill a poinsettia plant through root rot.

red and white poinsettias at the garden nursery on a shelf

Can You Use Ice Cubes to Water Poinsettias?

If you’re worried about over- or under-watering your poinsettias, watering them with ice cubes can be a great solution. With this technique, the ice cube waters the plant slowly as it melts, keeping the water moist every day without flooding. The general recommendation is to use one ice cube for each inch of your pot’s width. If you had a 6-inch pot you’d need six ice cubes.

Should You Spray Poinsettias with Water?

It’s important to focus on watering the actual soil of the poinsettia plant, but you can mist the flowers and leaves with water if you notice them starting to wilt. Spraying with water can boost the air humidity right around the plant, which can help keep the leaves from drying out.

To learn more about how much to water poinsettias, click here.

Should I Put My Poinsettia in the Dark?

We often think of plants as needing lots of sunlight. And most do! But during certain times of the year, you might actually want to keep your poinsettia plant in the dark.

If you keep your poinsettia year-round and want to help it rebloom next year, it’s recommended to keep your plant in total darkness from 5 pm to 8 am daily from fall until the holidays.

close up of red poinsettia -How to Care for Poinsettias
Red Poinsettia with Variegated Foliage

How to Keep Poinsettias Alive All Year

If you’re like me, then you don’t want a good plant to go to waste! Luckily, it is possible (although not necessarily easy) to keep poinsettias alive year-round.

How Long Will a Poinsettia Typically Last Indoors?

In general, poinsettias can flower for about 2-3 months but most only last about 4-6 weeks before the colorful bracts start dropping.

So much like my theory on garden mums, it’s a good idea to plan when you want to buy them to get the most out of them.

Can I Plant My Poinsettia Outside?

If you really want to try it, wait until all danger of frost has passed, and make sure you care for the poinsettia outside.

How to Care for Poinsettias Outside

Before you plant, cut the poinsettia back halfway. Place the poinsettia plant in a sunny but well-drained spot that is protected from high winds.

If it’s anything like my houseplants, it will rebound with lots of fresh new growth.

close up of red poinsettia with pine cones in planter - How to Care for Poinsettias
Red Poinsettias

Can a Poinsettia Go Outside in Summer?

I’ve not tried this before, but you can treat poinsettia plants like other houseplants and see what it does if you bring the pot outside in the summer.

Wait until all danger of frost has passed. Then bring it outdoors and maintain it in a shady spot that receives a lot of light. 

Water as needed and fertilize regularly. I would use a slow-release fertilizer so I only needed to fertilize once while it’s outside.

Since we moved, I may try doing it this way this year because I have the sunroom where it will get a lot of light during the winter, and can easily bring it outside in spring when it warms up.

I do this with many of my houseplants and they’ve all doubled and sometimes tripled in size just from their “summer vacation” outdoors. I’ve noticed they are also much healthier year-round because of that outdoor exposure.

greenhouse poinsettias and houseplants
red and gold poinsettia plants

Can You Keep a Poinsettia Year After Year?

Yes, it is possible to keep and care for a poinsettia year-round. I know people who have successfully done it.

It’s just not me! Like I’ve said before, if a plant needs a lot of care and maintenance, I steer clear. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try!

Want to Get a Poinsettia to Rebloom Next Year?

If you are interested in encouraging your Christmas plant to rebloom, please follow the recommendations from Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

I’ve never done it before with success. To me, these plants are too fussy to try to maintain year-round, but if you want to try it, I’d follow Rutgers recommendations.

Close up of red poinsettia plant - How to Care for Poinsettia Plant

How Do I Get My Poinsettia to Turn Red Again?

If you decide to try getting your poinsettia to bloom again, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure its bracts will turn red again at Christmas. This is where you’ll want to limit the plant’s sunshine. 

According to Michigan State University Extension, keeping your poinsettia in complete darkness for about 14 continuous hours per day can help its colorful leaves rebloom.

Beginning in the fall, the plant can be kept in a room where the lights will remain off or placed under a cardboard box for 14 hours. Even a small amount of light for a short time can impact the growth of the flower buds, so it’s important to ensure there is complete darkness.

Do this for about two months before you want them to bloom. This reduction in sunlight and consistent darkness should help your poinsettia turn red again in time for the holidays.

Remember, I’ve never actually done this myself. But I know people who have and would love to hear about your results if you try. Good luck – and let me know if it takes!

red and white poinsettias

Troubleshooting Common Poinsettia Problems

If you’re trying to learn how to care for poinsettias and keep them alive for longer than Christmas, you’re likely to run into a few common problems. Here are some tips on what to do to help your plant.

Why is My Poinsettia Wilting?

One of the most common reasons a poinsettia’s leaves may be wilting is because of a lack of humidity. Remember, these are plants native to hot, tropical climates. They like humid air! 

Because so many of us get poinsettias during the winter months, our homes are often warm but dry. Keep your poinsettia plants away from any drafty areas or open vents and try misting the leaves with water or adding a humidifier nearby.

gorgeous red poinsettias in greenhouse

Why is My Poinsettia Losing Leaves?

If your poinsettia plant is actually losing leaves, it could be a sign of a few common problems. 

These plants often drop their leaves if they are exposed to sudden changes in temperature, such as when they’re carried from a store to your car or if they’re placed too close to a vent. They might also lose leaves if they are under-watered. Be sure to check your plant’s soil often and keep it consistently moist.

Why are My Poinsettia’s Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellow lower leaves are a classic sign of an overwatered plant. While poinsettias like humidity and struggle when they are too dry, they can’t be too wet either. Remember I said they were kind of fussy? This is what I meant. If they are overwatered they can develop root rots and die. Yellow leaves could be the first sign.

poinsettias in the greenhouse at garden nursery

Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

Poinsettias can be mildly toxic, especially to dogs and cats, but they are not deadly. According to the U.S. Poison Control Center, poinsettias were believed to be deadly for many years, but research has shown consistently that they are not lethal when eaten by humans.

If ingested, it can cause mild illness that includes nausea or vomiting. And there have been some reports of the plants causing a rash if touched frequently, so it’s recommended to wear garden gloves when handling the foliage, bracts, and other plant parts.

The ASPCA rates poinsettias as being mildly toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, with the potential to cause nausea and vomiting too.

stacy ling purchasing poinsettias at garden nursery

My Perspective on Poinsettias Care

Much like garden mums, I view poinsettias as a holiday plant that looks great with my Christmas tree and is meant to bloom through the holidays.

So to me, they are better for holiday decorating than they are as a houseplant and I treat them as such.

I know several people who keep them for the following year and get them to re-bloom again for the next holiday season, but I’m not one of them.

To me, the best way to enjoy them is during the holidays and then I’m happy to be done with them.

I don’t want them taking up the real estate in my house for other houseplants.

And if I’m spending that much time caring for a houseplant, it’s going to be one that isn’t quite as fussy, like these.

red poinsettias

More About How to Care for Poinsettias

Do you enjoy live poinsettia plants around the holidays? Have you ever tried to grow them all year round? I would love to know more in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xoxo

stacy ling signature
Rustic farmhouse Christmas Decorating in the Living Room with roaring fire, tv over fireplace, mantel decorated for the holidays with faux greens and white christmas stockings, and poinsettias with mini trees and fairy lights

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Looking For More Christmas Decorating Ideas?

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Front Entry Hall at Christmas
close up of red poinsettia plants

close up of red poinsettia plants
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garden blogger stacy ling buying poinsettias at the nursery -how often to water poinsettia plant
various poinsettias at the garden nursery with houseplants - How to Care for Poinsettias
A variety of colorful poinsettia plants with different colored bracts at the garden nursery
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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Weekly Rambles - Lora Bloomquist~Create & Ponder
  2. Wow! Great info. I didn’t know this. In Florida, they plant their poinsettias outside in the garden. They grow into huge shrubs. They are beautiful.