red poinsettia plants

Poinsettias

Updated: November 29, 2022

About Poinsettias

  • Poinsettias are native to Mexico and belong to the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family.

  • Poinsettias add color and beauty to the interiorscape during the holiday season. You will find not only the traditional red, but also white, pink, and marbled colors. White poinsettias sometimes are dyed with other colors such as blue or orange. 

  • New hybrid introductions are made every year. Hybrid varieties of poinsettias make it possible for them to last longer indoors than ever before.  

  • The showy colored parts of poinsettias are not flowers but are colored bracts or modified leaves. The flowers (cyathia) are yellow and are located in the center of the bracts.

  • Indoors, proper care helps poinsettias maintain their appearance and increases their longevity.

How to care for Poinsettias

  • Plants prefer room temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F.

  • Make holes at the bottom of the decorative pot cover or remove it completely to prevent water from sitting in the bottom too long. Too much water can drown roots. Check the soil moisture daily and water plants only when the potting media becomes dry.

  • Do not place plants in areas prone to drafts such as near heat vents, fireplaces, or doors, and windows because leaf and flower drop may occur. Never place poinsettias near a cold window. Place in an area with bright natural light from the south, east, or west but avoid direct sunlight.

  • Fertilizing is not necessary during the holiday season.

How to get Poinsettias to rebloom or produce flower bracts again

Some people like a challenge and want to save their Poinsettias and get them to rebloom again. However, it is unlikely that the size and quality will equal that of greenhouse-grown plants. The following procedures will result in reflowering:

  • Cut plants back in early May to 3 to 4 inches above the soil line and repot into fresh commercially available soilless growing media (light-weight “potting mix”).

  • Place the plant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Initially choose a shady location and over a period of a couple of weeks introduce it to more sunlight.

  • When new growth has reached 1 to 2 inches begin fertilizing monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer having a nutrient analysis of approximately 20-10- 20.

  • Pinch or prune out the tips of the branches when new growth reaches 4 to 5 inches and once again after additional new growth reaches 2 to 3 inches to keep the plant growth compact. Avoid pinching after early September or flowers may not form in time for the holidays.

  • Bring plants inside by late September before night temperatures go below 60 degrees F. and reduce fertilizer applications.

  • Place plants in areas that will receive as much natural light as possible.

  • Poinsettias initiate flowers as the days get shorter and any additional light from artificial sources will prevent flower development. To get bract color for the holidays it is necessary to give the plants no more than 10 hours of daylight and then place them in at least 14 hours of darkness each day. This can be done by either placing plants under a box or in a closet each evening from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM through Thanksgiving.

  • Even a small light leak will prevent flowering. The plants are not as light-sensitive once the color has developed in the bracts.

  • Delayed flower development is common and caused by light pollution during the darkness period.