How to look after a poinsettia

Poinsettia plants look incredible, unless they start to wilt. Learn how to keep poinsettias alive.

Updated

well looked after poinsettia on fabric in front of wooden wall

Key steps

If you want to know how to look after a poinsettia indoors:

  1. Put it in a well-lit room, out of direct sunlight.
  2. Keep it away from draughts.
  3. Keep the soil damp, not wet; water it a little when the top layers of soil are dry.
  4. Keep your home warm, ideally between 16 and 22°C.

The poinsettia is a gorgeous festive addition to a home, but it’s also native to Mexico, so looking after poinsettia plants may seem daunting in a colder climate. You’re unlikely to see a thriving poinsettia in a British garden in December, but there’s no reason you can’t keep one indoors. Here’s how to look after a poinsettia plant.

Dry weather can be rough on a poinsettia, so you may find a humidifier helps when you’re looking after poinsettia plants.

How to look after a poinsettia indoors: what to avoid and what to remember

  • A poinsettia should ideally have about six hours of indirect sunlight a day. In the UK, of course, finding six hours of sunlight in the winter is easier said than done, but you can improve your poinsettia’s chances by keeping it in a room with good-sized windows, out of direct light.
  • Don’t expose your poinsettia to wind or draughts. Find somewhere in your home where the air’s usually still. Don’t keep it near windows or doors that you’re planning to open over the Christmas period.
  • You should keep your home between 16 and 22°C when you’re keeping a poinsettia, and you certainly shouldn’t let it drop below 13°C. To be honest, you should be staying above that temperature even if you’re not looking after poinsettia plants, in order to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Avoid overwatering. The soil shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely, but it should be kept damp rather than wet. Make sure the pot has holes in the bottom to allow water to drain, and give it a little water each day or two, when the upper layers of soil start to feel dry; a couple of tablespoons should be fine.
  • If the plant starts to wilt or the leaves are turning yellow, check whether the soil is too wet, in which case you should stop watering and give it some time to dry out, or too dry, in which case you should give it some water.

How to keep poinsettias alive until next Christmas

If you just want to know how to keep poinsettias alive through Christmas, the above advice should help see you through. If you want the same poinsettia next year, though, there are a few things you’ll need to do to keep it looking its best.

  • Prune the poinsettia in March or April.
  • If it’s looking a little cramped, move it into a slightly larger pot in early summer.
  • Put the pot outside over summer, somewhere sheltered, where the sunlight won’t be too direct.
  • Bring it indoors when the weather starts to turn colder.
  • Around October, as winter approaches, you’ll want the leaves to turn red again. The technique for this is pretty interesting: give it normal daylight in the daytime, but put it in complete darkness at night. Keep doing this for a few weeks, until it’s looking vibrant and red.

Of course, the festive season might need more plant care knowledge than how to look after a poinsettia. Check out our guide to real Christmas tree care.

Originally published