Poinsettia Plant Care: Tips to Keep Yours Looking Good

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Poinsettias can be tricky to maintain indoors even for a few weeks. These Poinsettia plant care tips can help keep yours alive and looking good.

It’s that time of year when these colorful plants make it into our homes. Something alive and growing in December. It’s a Christmas miracle! They bring us cheer during the winter holiday season.

Poinsettias are the most popular plant sold here in the US with almost 50 million pots sold last year. They’re happily grown in climate-controlled greenhouses.

Then, they’re foiled and sleeved so they can be sent out on trucks to their retail destinations across the country.

Because of that, they’re exposed to cold drafts. Then they’re crammed together on display racks for sale in grocery stores, Home Depots, Lowes, local garden centers, and more.


Poinsettias have been through it all before they even get into your hands and find a place in your home. Follow these tips to keep them looking healthy throughout the holiday season!

1) Purchase Healthy Plants

A healthy, fresh Poinsettia plant will last longer. They usually come wrapped in foil so peel it back if you can to examine the plant. Check the lower foliage to make sure it looks good. An indication that they’re wilting is when you see that the leaves haven’t yellowed. The leaves may even fall off.

The plants should have lots of colored leaves (technically called bracts) with small yellow flowers in the center. They should still be intact and just opening or partially open. You want to make sure those yellow flowers are still showing, otherwise, the plants are on their way out.

If your Poinsettias have come in paper or plastic plant sleeves, remove them as soon as you get home. The plants should be exposed to light and air as soon as possible.

Here’s a post to help you  Pick Out The Perfect Poinsettia and make it last.

2) Place your Poinsettia Plants in Bright Locations

Poinsettias are  Succulents and like as much bright, natural light as you can give them. Just make sure they’re not sitting in a hot or cold window touching the glass. Near a sunny window, but not in it, would be fine.

3) A Bit of Temperature Fluctuation is Best

Poinsettia plants like it on the warmer (not hot) side during the day and cooler at night. It can be tricky to find that balance but do your best.

If you turn your heat back at night to around 60 degrees F, then your Poinsettias will be happier and last longer. The warmer you keep your house, the faster your Poinsettia flowers will open up. That means the bloom time will be shorter.

4) Strike a Balance with Watering

Watering is critical when it comes to Poinsettia plant care.

Surprisingly, these plants with the large, smooth colored leaves are Euphorbias which means they’re succulents. Unlike a Pencil Cactus which is also a Euphorbia, you don’t want your Poinsettias to dry out. 

The soil should be slightly moist to the touch. If kept too dry, they’ll lose their lower leaves and start to shrivel.

Conversely, if you keep your Poinsettias too wet, they’ll also lose their lower leaves. The soil becomes waterlogged which means the roots will start to rot. This often happens because people don’t take off the foil or take them out of the decorative pots when watering.


This means the water can’t drain out of the bottom of the pots, the roots stay too wet and your beautiful Christmas plants can die. To avoid this, don’t let your Poinsettia plants sit in any water.

It’s hard to give a time schedule but as (very) general rule, water your Poinsettias about once a week. As with all houseplants, how often you water will depend on your home’s environment.

You need to find that happy in between when it comes to watering – not too wet and not too dry.

5) Remove the Foil or Decorative Pot When You Water Your Poinsettia Plants

You want to take your Poinsettias out of the foil (or decorative pot) so you can give it a good drink. Water the soil thoroughly and let it all drain out before placing it back them back in the decorative containers. If you have a saucer placed under the plant, make sure it doesn’t have water sitting in it.

6) Keep Them Away From Heaters & Cold Drafts

Plain and simple, Poinsettias don’t like hot or cold air blasting at them. They won’t appreciate being placed right next to a fireplace that’s in use either.

This is “Jingle Bells”. Long gone are the days of the red Poinsettias only – there have been so many new introductions in the past 20 years. There are even orange and dark pink Poinsettias now!

I love Poinsettias and always have a few in my home during the holiday season to brighten things up. I’ve kept 1 looking good for almost 2 months! So it’s possible if all the factors are right and they’re properly maintained.


By the way, Poinsettias emit a white, milky sap (just like the Pencil Cactus & other Euphorbias). This was once considered toxic. Everything I’ve recently read now points to fact that this sap is much less toxic than originally thought.

This is good news indeed if you have pets and are worried about them being in close proximity to these festive Christmas plants.

However, if your pets like to chew on plants, it’s best to display your Poinsettias where they can’t have at them. Just to be safe!

This plant, also known as the Christmas Flower or Christmas Star, signifies success and good cheer. December 12th is National Poinsettia Day so pick up a few and to help celebrate this festive time of year.

I hope these Poinsettia plant care tips help keep yours looking good and help make your holiday even more festive!

A joyous holiday to you,


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  1 question
  • Kim Shively Kim Shively on Dec 06, 2020

    All of the red leaves fell off but I’ve managed to keep it alive for a year! It is December and it’s not blooming. What should I have done to help that along?


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2 of 13 comments
  • Sarge Sarge on Jan 14, 2021

    I've had one for a little over 3 years and this past summer (2020) leaves began falling off and I thought it was finally going to die. I continued to water it (all of the leaves hadn't fallen) and in the fall I had new leaves sprouting, by Thanksgiving I had new red leaves. I cared for it like any other plant and have never put it in a dark closet like I've heard other people do. The ones I purchased this past holiday season are also sprouting new leaves. I'm hoping they last as well.

  • Joy Us garden Joy Us garden on Jan 20, 2021

    Sarge - You have the touch. They must get a natural cycle of darkness t bloom again. My neighbor's poinsettias in Santa Barbara set color every year too. nell