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Caring for your poinsettia plant

Best known for its bright red flowers and dark green leaves, the poinsettia spreads holiday cheer. Karen Mitchell, consumer horticulture Extension specialist, shares how to properly care for this delicate plant.


What are the signs of a healthy poinsettia?

When buying a poinsettia, look for dark green leaves. Unhealthy poinsettias will have yellowing leaves, wilting leaves, or leaves that easily drop off the plant. Also check that the soil is not bone-dry or sopping-wet as either may indicate inconsistent care and a stressed plant.


How do you properly care for poinsettias?

Poinsettias prefer sun, so place them near a bright window, but keep them protected from cold temperatures. Do not allow the foliage or flowers to contact a cold window glass. Poinsettias should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. If the pot is wrapped in foil, make sure to poke holes through the bottom for excess water to drain.

Poinsettias are a tropical perennial, which means they can live for many years. It is possible to grow them inside in Indiana as a perennial, but obtaining the beautiful color each holiday season is difficult due to the specific length of darkness required.


What do you recommend doing with poinsettias after the holidays?

Once you have enjoyed the beautiful, colorful bracts of the poinsettia, it can be tossed into the compost bin.


Are poinsettias dangerous for children and pets?

While it is always best to keep plants out of reach of children and pets, poinsettias are not deadly. Some people and pets may experience skin irritation from touching the plant due to its milky sap.


What advice do you have for people purchasing poinsettias as gifts?

Keep the plant protected from cold temperatures during transport! Plants left in an unheated car are not likely to survive the winter cold.


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