How to Care for Poinsettias Year-Round

White, red and pink poinsettias
(DepositPhotos)

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 post-holiday cleanup.

Why not keep your poinsettias as houseplants? Here’s what you need to know to grow and care for your holiday poinsettia throughout the year.

But first, we’ll share some basic facts about poinsettias.


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 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.
Poinsettias closeup, showing their bracts
Poinsettias’ flowers are the center of the surrounding red leaves, or 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 pot’s diameter.
  • Keep Warm: Cover your new poinsettia when taking it to and from your car as they are 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.