Poinsettia Care At a Glance

Written by Gay Smith

First consideration is temperature management. Poinsettias are native to Mexico. These plants like bright light. Unless you are a snowbird the Southwest or overwintering in Florida, bright light in winter months means as sunny a location as possible in the house. Poinsettias love the same indoor temperatures as most home dwellers, between 62F—72F is right.

A fast way to kill any plant (including poinsettias) is by overwatering. Every 8-10 days is sufficient and always give time to let the water drain completely through the pot to avoid accumulation of salts in the soil profile. Salt accumulation causes burning on leaf margins. Remove pot cover, soak soil surface with tepid water until water free flows out the bottom. Take care to keep the leaves and red bracts dry. Then repeat the same action so air pockets in soil are completely filled with water. Never leave the pot submerged. Roots drown without oxygen. Allow the plant to drain a couple hours before placing back in deco pot or sleeve. Don’t worry about fertilizing this warm climate native; growers prep plants with enough food to sustain them through their month-long beauty pageant.

Protect against ethylene exposure:
Poinsettias are ethylene sensitive and die fast if exposed to this naturally occurring substance. The biggest source of ethylene inside the home is smoke—makes no difference if the smoke originates from a cigarette, the fireplace or a slice of bread stuck in the toaster, all smoke contains high levels of ethylene so get the plant out of the area fast! Same holds true with orchid plants! Finally, toss the plant when packing up the holiday décor. Nothing can trigger the January blues faster than a poinsettia gasping its last breath as leaves curl and die exposing naked stems.