red poinsettia plants


Updated: December 12, 2023

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

  • Place your Poinsettia in an area with bright natural light from the south, east, or west, but avoid direct sunlight.
  • Keep away from cold, drafty windows and drying heat sources. Poinsettias prefer daytime room temperatures between 60⁰ and 70⁰ F and in the mid-fifties overnight. 
  • Do not place plants in areas prone to drafts such as near heat vents, fireplaces, doors, or windows because leaf and flower drop may occur. Never place poinsettias near a cold window.
  • Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Water thoroughly so that roots at the bottom of the pot will be moist. Allow the water to drain freely from the bottom of the container but do not let your plant sit in a water-filled saucer.
  • Remove or poke holes in the decorative foil or plastic on the bottom of the container to ensure that excess water will drain out. Good drainage is essential! Too much water can drown roots.
  • Fertilizing is not necessary during bloom time. Begin to fertilize using a balanced houseplant fertilizer in late winter until late summer, if you keep your plant past 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.

Compiled by Debra Ricigliano, former Extension Program Assistant and Certified Professional Horticulturist, Home & Garden Information Center