When you think of winter plants, your mind may land on the poinsettia. These colorful plants light up homes during cold and dark days and signal that a new year is on its way. While people often associate these plants with Christmas, they can thrive well beyond the holiday season if provided with proper care. We’ll delve into how to care for poinsettia plants indoors so you can enjoy your plant as long as possible.
Poinsettias are a group of plants that are native to Mexico and parts of Central America. While they can survive outdoors in warm environments, they’re frequently grown as indoor potted plants.
While many people refer to the red, white, or pink parts of the plants as flowers, they are actually modified leaves called bracts. The plant’s true small, yellow flowers appear in the center of the bracts. Poinsettias bloom and change color as days shorten, which is why the plants are popular holiday plants.
Caring for Poinsettias Indoors
Most people bring potted poinsettias into their homes in November or December, so we’ll cover poinsettia care for the typical indoor conditions.
Selecting a Poinsettia Plant
Choosing a healthy poinsettia is the first part of maintaining a good-looking plant. Since the plants’ leaves change color as the flowers form, you’ll want to closely examine the small yellow flowers in the center of the bracts. Tighter flower buds mean the plants have just started blooming, so the colorful bracts will last longer.
You should also take a look at the plant’s overall appearance. Avoid plants with drooping or discolored leaves, and stay away from any plants that are infected with pests.
Choosing the Correct Light
Poinsettias prefer bright and indirect light. That means they’ll be happy next to a west-facing or south-facing window, as long as they don’t receive direct rays. You can also tuck the plants in the interior of a bright room.
Maintaining Temperature and Humidity
During the winter, poinsettias like the temperature to remain warm. Aim to keep the plants in an area where the air stays between 60–70°F. You should also keep the plants away from both hot and cold drafts. That means avoiding the urge to set them beside your fireplace, next to an old drafty window, or by a heating vent.
Poinsettias prefer moderate humidity. Since heat causes many homes to dry out in the winter, the humidity may be slightly lower than these plants prefer. If you want to boost the humidity, use a humidifier or place your plant on a pebble tray filled with water.
Watering the Proper Amount
Poinsettias like soil that is moderately moist but not wet. That means allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings while avoiding completely dry soil. The frequency you should water a poinsettia depends on the temperature, humidity, light, soil type, and other factors. However, watering your plant once or twice a week is generally a good place to start.
You can also check the soil moisture level using your finger or a moisture probe. Stick your finger into the soil near the middle of the pot. If the top inch of soil is dry, go ahead and water. And if it’s still moist, hold off on watering. A soil moisture probe can tell you when the water is dry and when you need to water.
Poinsettia Care Year Round
That’s right, poinsettia plants can survive after the holiday season! While many people toss poinsettia plants at the end of winter, these plants can live for multiple years! Take note of the following poinsettia care tips if you want to keep your plant growing into the spring and summer.
Continue Normal Care
After the winter holidays pass, continue to care for your poinsettia as you have been. That means providing bright yet indirect light, keeping the temperature warm, and watering when the soil begins to dry.
Prune and Clean
Even if you provide your plant with the proper care, it will begin to drop its leaves in the beginning or middle of spring. Don’t worry, this is natural! Simply remove the fallen leaves from the soil surface to help prevent disease and keep your plant tidy.
After you’ve cleaned up the leaves, it’s time to prune. Start by removing any dead, dried, or discolored leaves. You can then use a pair of sharp shears to prune off the top two or three inches of each branch. This will encourage the production of side shoots and lead to a fuller plant.
Repot into a Larger Container
If you want to keep your poinsettia through the following winter, it’s a good idea to repot it into a larger container before summer arrives. This will give the plant room to expand and allow you to inspect the plant’s roots.
Start by selecting a container that is a few inches larger than the original. The pot’s material isn’t important, but make sure the bottom has drainage holes.
Next, find a suitable potting mix—poinsettia plants like well-draining soil that can hold a bit of moisture. Most soilless potting mixes designed for houseplants will work quite well. Just look for a mix with a peat moss or coco coir base.
Gently slide the plant’s root ball out of the container onto a towel or newspaper. Take a moment to brush off excess potting soil and look at the roots. If you see any soft or discolored roots, trim them off. Place the root ball into the new container, fill the space with fresh potting mix, and water well.
Fertilize in the Late Summer
Your plant will begin putting on new growth in the mid to late summer. Fertilizing will help provide the plant with the necessary nutrients to complete this process.
Choose a fertilizer designed for flowering plants and dilute it to one-half the recommended strength. Fertilize your poinsettia about once every two weeks from mid-summer to early fall.
Provide Long and Dark Nights
Poinsettia plants begin to flower and produce colorful bracts in response to long nights. Replicating these long nights will allow you to have colorful poinsettias just in time for the winter holidays.
When the fall equinox (the first day of fall) arrives, it’s time to begin the dark treatment. Place your plant in an area that receives complete darkness for 16 hours each night. The area must be completely dark, not just dim. A dark closet can work well, but you can also place your plant under a large cardboard box.
The plant should continue to receive bright, indirect light for the remaining eight hours of the day.
Continue this long-night treatment until the end of November. When December arrives, you can care for your poinsettia as normal.
Watch for Pests
Indoor poinsettias are susceptible to many of the same pests that infect other houseplants. Keep an eye out for tiny, sap-sucking pests like spider mites, aphids, and thrips. If you see these critters on your poinsettia, use a soapy rag to remove them ASAP. You can spray larger infestations with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Types of Poinsettias
You may think of poinsettias as bright red and green plants, but there are many different poinsettias to choose from. The following poinsettia varieties are tried and true favorites.
- Prestige Red: a classic variety with bright red bracts that contrast against deep green leaves
- Jingle Bells: get in the holiday spirit with bright red bracts sprinkled with white
- Ice Punch: this variety has red holly-shaped bracts that look like they’ve been covered with a light layer of white ice
- Christmas Beauty Nostalgia: a multi-colored poinsettia with pink bracts that change to yellow and light green
- Cinnamon Star: light salmon and peach bracts are covered with splashes of dark pink
- Premium Marble: a beautiful variety with white bracts featuring light pink interiors
- Winter Rose Dark Red: this new variety features small, dark red bracts that are arranged in a swirled pattern to resemble a rose
Enrich Your Life with Plants
Whether you’re looking for a poinsettia to brighten up your home in the winter or a flowering plant for the summer garden, The Bouqs Co. is here for you. We have a variety of plants for delivery and a rotating selection of cut flower bouquets, as well.
Once you bring your new plant home, you can continue to lean on us for information about plant care. We’ve compiled plant care guides including a piece on caring for succulents and an anthurium plant care guide.Shop All