How To Care for a Poinsettia

Poinsettias are Colorful Plants During the Holiday Period

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular houseplants during the holiday season because of their bright colors -- they come in red, pink and cream. The color is shown in leaf bracts, not flowers, and as these plants are native to Mexico and tropical regions, they need special care if they are too look their best indoors.

  1. Buy a fresh plant. Poinsettias need a very specific set of conditions to trigger flowering (14 hours of darkness and 10 hours of bright light every day for 10 weeks, plus a warm temperature) and so it is best to buy fresh plants every year for the holiday season.
  2. Keep warm. A poinsettia will look good for up to 16 weeks in the right conditions. They need to be kept warm, between 55 and 70 F, and away from drafts.
  3. Raise the humidity. Fill a tray full of gravel, then add water. Put the poinsettia pot onto the gravel (out of the water) and keep the water topped up so that the poinsettia lives in a humid microclimate.
  4. Expose to bright light. Poinsettias will tolerate low light conditions, but to maintain a good leaf color, the plants should be kept in good light.
  5. Don't over-water. Water into the top of the pot, then wait until the compost has completely dried out before watering again.
  6. Feed. Feed with a tomato feed, or one designed to promote flowering, not leafy growth.
  7. Watch out for problems. Leaf fall is caused by low light levels, drafts and over-watering. If the 'flowers' drop, this is more likely to be caused by low humidity.


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