Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Grow Poinsettias Year-Round

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Once the holidays come to an end, many of us find ourselves with a lovely assortment of poinsettias that we guiltily throw in the trash during the great post-holiday cleanup.

This year, why not practice a little year-round cheer and keep your poinsettias as houseplants? They are beautiful, lush plants, and you’ve never received a holiday gift quite as special as coaxing a poinsettia into bloom.

Here’s what you need to know to grow and care for your holiday poinsettia throughout the year.

Poinsettia Facts

  • Poinsettias are named for Joel Robert Poinsett (1779-1851), a noted statesman and dedicated amateur botanist who first brought poinsettias to the United States from Mexico in 1825 while serving as ambassador.
  • Poinsettias are tropical plants. In the wild, they grow as perennials reaching almost 10 feet tall.
  • Contrary to popular myth, poinsettias aren’t poisonous. Like other plants in the Euphorbia family, they have a milky sap that can give you (or your pets) a stomach ache or irritate your skin when exposed to large quantities, but otherwise they’re nontoxic.
  • Poinsettias come in a wide range of colors, from red to yellow to multicolored.
  • The bright colors on poinsettias are actually leaf bracts, not flowers. The flowers are small and found in the yellow center of the stalk.


Look for bushy plants with fully opened bracts.

Buying Poinsettias

  • Choosing Plants: Look for bushy plants with lots of colorful bracts that are fully opened yet not covered with pollen (dropping pollen means it’s near the end of blooming). The ideal plant size is about 2½ times the diameter of the pot.
  • Keep Warm: Cover your new poinsettia when taking it to and from your car as they are very susceptible to cold.
  • Allow to Drain: Poinsettias don’t like to sit in water. If your plant has a foil gift wrapping, either remove it or poke holes to allow water to drain.

Growing Poinsettias

Remember that poinsettias are tropical plants that require maximum light, warmth, and humidity to survive. While blooming, your plant will do best under these conditions:

  • Light: Poinsettias need at least six hours of bright, indirect sunlight a day. Choose the brightest window you can, but don’t allow the plant to touch cold glass.
  • Temperature: The ideal temperature for poinsettias is between 65°- 75° F. They are susceptible to leaf drop and will become scraggly looking if exposed to cold drafts or extreme temperature changes.
  • Watering: Thoroughly water the plant when the soil feels dry, then empty the drainage tray so your poinsettia doesn’t sit in water. Mist regularly, or add a pebble tray or humidifier to increase humidity.
  • Nutrients: Don’t feed your poinsettia while it’s blooming. Food comes later – see below for instructions.

Poinsettia Care Calendar

The challenge of growing poinsettias lies in getting them to bloom again. Follow this care schedule to encourage years of growth and flowering.

  • Winter: (January – March) Continue watering and enjoying your poinsettia in a sunny window for as long as it’s blooming.
  • Spring: (March – May) After the blooms fade, the plant enters a resting season until summer. Prune your plant back to 6”-8” tall. Reduce watering and allow the plant to get completely dry between waterings.
  • Summer: (May – September) Repot if needed in very light potting mix, moving to a slightly larger pot if it appears root-bound. When you see new growth, begin feeding every two weeks with a balanced organic fertilizer. Pinch back the stems as they grow, to encourage branching. You can put your poinsettia outdoors for the summer, but be sure to bring it back inside before temperatures drop into the 50s F.
  • Fall: (October) Poinsettias bloom in response to shorter days. For about 8-10 weeks prior to the desired bloom time, put your poinsettia in complete darkness for 12-15 hours per day. You can cover it with a thick cardboard box or black plastic bag, or move the plant to a closet, but it needs TOTAL darkness for at least 12 hours per day – even indoor lighting will disrupt the process. During the day, remove the covering and make sure the plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. Water and feed as usual.
  • Holiday Blooms: (November – December) After 8-10 weeks of darkness treatment, you should see flower buds on your poinsettia. Once you do, you can discontinue the darkness treatment and bring it back out to your window after Thanksgiving to enjoy. Continue watering, but stop feeding until spring.

Further Information



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9 Comments on “How to Grow Poinsettias Year-Round”

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  1. Jackie Rials Says:
    January 7th, 2013 at 1:05 am

    What brand of fertilizer should I use ?

  2. Jackie Rials Says:
    January 7th, 2013 at 1:07 am

    This atrical was great & very informative . Thank you !

  3. amysue Says:
    February 17th, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Im so excited to try to keep my pointsettia growing all year. I love them especially the shape of the leaves.
    thanks for the instructions. :)

  4. Lu Says:
    January 4th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks
    I hate to throw them out as I usualy do so this time I will take your advise.
    Wish me luck I will need it.

  5. Denise Porcelli Says:
    January 24th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I found a poinsettia in the garbage yesterday in Michigan , the temp was about °5 . The plant was maybe out there a cpl hrs and was alive when put in the trash . Although it looks to be in very bad shape obviously , I’m hoping to bring it back . I’ve had good luck with rescuing plants from the garbage but a poinsettia is a new 1 for me . Any advice would be much appreciated .The pot nor soil were frozen , which led me to believe it wasn’t out there very long nor were the stalks froze or brittle from death . It has extensive damage but I’m hoping for a turn around . Can you please respond by email with ANY advice. I’ll try and save this page as well . Thank you in advance

  6. bernice sickles Says:
    April 9th, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    why do the bloom on a poinsettia become smaller year after year?

  7. Frank Says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for the advice. I was always told you could not grow poinsettias all year. With your suggestions I hope to be able to do it.

  8. ken johnson Says:
    September 27th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I have a number of Poinsettias in a single, large pot. Very suddenly, two of these plants began showing symptoms similar to roses suffering from manganese shortage. Are poinsettias affected by this shortage as roses are; and is the remedy the same? If not, what’s the problem and how is it is corrected?

  9. KAY MILLER Says:
    November 23rd, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    we live in Arizona and winter is like summer months back east. do I still follow all instructions as if we were back east. its warm year round here. still keep in the dark for the 12-15 hrs per day? is the darkness a necessary process? we have sunshine 340 days a yr. please advise……love your site.

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