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Poinsettia Care

by Yvonne Garman
Master Gardener


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(Euphorbia Pulcherrima)

In Mexico where Poinsettias grow year round they are considered a semi-deciduous shrub and can grow to be surprisingly large.  Some call this plant the Mexican flame leaf.  In cooler climates such as ours there are special requirements.

Indoors keep plants away from drafts.  Place them in an area that generally stays around 60.  Keep away from fireplaces and vents.  It's also a good idea to keep them out of high traffic areas as the stems snap quite easily.  Stake them if they're tall and leggy.  It is very important to keep the humidity level high to prevent flower drop.  Mist often or place a tray of pebbles underneath the pot filled with water.  Check them regularly!  Dry air will be the death of your beautiful poinsettias before you know it.  If you have a humidifier place one behind your larger poinsettias or even over by your tree...all will benefit - especially your Christmas tree.  Let the surface of the soil dry a bit before watering.  If your poinsettia is wilting and then dropping the lower leaves over-watering is the culprit!  But don't forget to water either.  If your poinsettia is not wilting or dropping leaves move it to a warmer and brighter location.  By the way, poinsettias do not tolerate cigarette smoke.

For those of you that enjoy a challenge, here is how to make your poinsettia bloom again next year....

As the leaves begin to turn yellow and drop off, gradually stop watering the plant.  Keep it cool and dry until about the end of April then give it a good pruning leaving approximately 4" of stalks.  Start to increase the light (indirect), heat and water.  When fear of frost is gone bury the plant pot and all.  (A mulch corner in the garden would be a good location).  Make sure to feed it along with others in the garden throughout the season.  

Early Fall (before frost) bring it indoors.  In order for it to bloom for Christmas you need to trick it into thinking it's receiving the long nights it needs to trigger blossoms.  So in October move them into a totally dark closet for 14 hours (of night).  Bring out into sunlight for 10 hours (of day).  Do this every day for 10 weeks and you will have blossoms in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Good Luck & Merry Christmas! 


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