How to Pick the Perfect Poinsettia and Make It Last

2 Materials
5 Minutes

There are a wide variety of poinsettias out there, with the colors of shapes of the leaves, and the fullness of the plants. This time of year, poinsettias surge in popularity because of their beautiful and varied colors. If you'd like to learn a few tips on how to pick the perfect poinsettia to last through the holiday season, you've come to the right place.

How to Pick the Perfect Poinsettia this Holiday Season

These tips will help you pick out a beautiful plant that'll last much longer than the two weeks leading up to Christmas!

Check the flowers

These are fresh flowers. Some are still closed & some are partially open - just how you want them.

Many plant buyers confuse the bracts for the poinsettia flower. You should check the center of the flower and look for the yellow color. The yellow in the consider indicates that the flower is nice and fresh—a good way to make sure it'll be healthy and last much longer! The flower center shouldn't be fully open either.

The flowers are actually the small yellowish, greenish centers. The colored portions which some people think are the flower petals are called bracts.

Although the bracts are still very red on this poinsettia, what you can't see is that most of the bracts & leaves have fallen off. If the flowers are completely open or missing, the plant is nearing the end of its bloom cycle.

Check the Leaves

Speaking of leaves, the poinsettias should have a plentiful amount. If you see a bunch of leaves on the surface of the soil, it could have been overwatered or underwatered at some point.

Also, look out for any yellow leaves. It's normal for the plant to have a few yellow leaves every now and then. In fact, the lower ones typically turn yellow, dry up and fall off as part of the normal growth cycle of a poinsettia Because they are deciduous. However, too many yellow leaves on the plant when you buy it could mean it's been stressed.

Look for the stems

When purchasing a poinsettia, you want to check the number of flower stems. You want as many stems as possible. This way, you'll get a nice, full poinsettia. Get up close and personal with the plant you're looking to buy. Don't be shy! This way, you can also see the indications for a fresher flower.

Avoid broken stems or leaves

Broken stems and leaves can indicate the form of the poinsettia too. They're often displayed on nursery and store shelves very close together so it's hard to see the form if you don't pick it up and give it a look. If the stems are broken, it usually means that the plant was damaged during transportation or while waiting for purchase at the store.

Sleeve or foil wrapping

Sometimes, the stores will have the poinsettias wrapped in a sleeve or foil on the lower part of the plant. See if you can remove this wrapping, and then check that part of the plant for mildew. Sometimes, the lower leaves will have powdery mildew, especially when they're stored tightly into delivery trucks or on the shelves.

Look for a full looking plant

Turn the plant around in a full circle to determine how full it looks. Poinsettias are ornamental plants after all. You want them to look as festive from all sides as possible!

The idea is to select a plant with a good amount of foliage. Poinsettias are a deciduous plant, so their leaves will fall off after they've reached full bloom. In other words, the more foliage the plant has, the longer it will last.

Make sure the plant isn't too wet or too dry

Many times, these plants are overwatered or underwatered. They can either leave the growers really wet and just never dry out, or they can dry out in the store with no one rewatering them once they're dry.

The powdery mildew mentioned above indicates a damp plant, while too many yellow leaves can indicate a dry plant.

Buy from a reliable, local source if possible

I've purchased my Poinsettias from Green Things Nursery in the past, located here in Tuscon. I know it's not always possible to buy local, but if you can, you should! Local growers aren't delivering the plants across the country so they stay put in one location. That helps them stay fresh and well taken care of.

Poinsettia Care Tips

The next thing to do after your purchase your poinsettia plant is to take good care of it! These are the 3 most important things to know to keep your poinsettia looking lovely all season long.


Keep your poinsettia in bright light. I live in Arizona so my poinsettias get a fair amount of exposure to the filtered sun, even indoors near a window. I will also rotate the plant so I can make sure it's getting enough light all the way around. Your plant will last longer if it's in bright, natural light.


Poinsettias are succulents (many buyers don't know that!), but they like to be a little moister, during their bloom cycle, then a jade plant or aloe vera. You have to find the balance between not too wet and not too dry.

Here is what I do: I remove the plant from the foil that you typically see poinsettias sold in or a decorative container. I water the plant thoroughly in the sink, and let all the water drain out. When the plant is done draining, I place the plant back in the foil.

Yes, you can over water a poinsettia. Make sure that none of the water sits in the container. The water that sits in the bottom of the container or the foil could overwater the poinsettia and cause root rot.

Last year, I had my Poinsettia Ice Punch for about 7 weeks. In that amount of time, I only watered it 3 or 4 times.


My home typically stays at 70 degrees during the day. At night, it's around 65 degrees. This is a temperature range my poinsettias have enjoyed indoors.

Keep your poinsettia away from areas in the home that may have a cold draft. I know many of you may want to display that gorgeous foliage near the front foyer of your home, but if you're opening and closing the front door frequently, that can make the plant look droopy.

The same thing can happen with heat. Don't keep the plant on a radiator or near a vent. The heat will definitely dry it out!

Good to know...

This has nothing to do with buying or care but I want to explain why most people don't keep their poinsettias as houseplants after the holidays. As mentioned earlier, your poinsettia will eventually lose all its leaves because it's a deciduous plant. The colorful canopy on top can prevent the lower leaves from getting enough exposure. It shades out the lower growth, so naturally, those leaves will fall off. The colored bracts will eventually fall off too.

Suggested materials:

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Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Tammy Trebesch Tammy Trebesch on Dec 18, 2019

    I take mine outside in the summer. It’s fun to enjoy them.

  • Charlean Charlean on Jan 07, 2020

    Can they be replanted

  • Sharon Taube Sharon Taube on Jan 07, 2020

    I see it is sitting ext to scat I the picture above. Are poinsettias poisonous to cats?


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