How to Care for Poinsettias So They Last All Season

Keep this festive holiday plant looking good all season long.

The colors of poinsettias range from deep red and crimson to orange and winter white. These plants are one of the signs that the holiday season is here. Poinsettias are often called “the Christmas flower” and can be found arranged in groups to decorate the mantelpiece in a home, the foyers of public spaces and churches.

If you decorate for the holidays with poinsettias, one of the most popular Christmas flowers and plants, here’s how to keep the plant blooming all season long.

How to Care for Poinsettias

It’s common for poinsettias to become droopy and drop the bright-colored leaves before the new year rolls around. But keeping the plant blooming throughout the holiday season doesn’t need to be a chore. These tips can help keep your poinsettias looking good while the festivities happen.

Monitor the Temperature

Temperature is a consideration with poinsettia care. Sources of heat will affect the longevity of your poinsettia plant’s blooms. Consider the amount of heat in the room where you plan to decorate with poinsettias.

Avoid placing the plant too close to radiators that throw off a lot of heat and windows and doors which can have drafts of cold air. Protect the plants from dramatic drops in temperature since this will cause the leaves to prematurely wilt.

Keep poinsettias in an environment with temperatures between 65 and 75°F. A gentle mist sprayed daily will be appreciated by the plant.

Provide Plenty of Light

Poinsettias are from Central America where they are used to receiving generous amounts of sun. Your poinsettia will thrive when it gets sunshine from a well-lit window. East-facing windows will provide the morning sun and the afternoon’s shade. When placing the poinsettias near sunny windows, be sure to avoid any part of the plant coming in direct contact with a cold windowpane as this will cause the leaves to wilt.

Let Drain After Watering

Remove any decorative foil from the pot when it is time to water.

A poinsettia plant can be watered by placing it in the kitchen sink. Water below the leaves at the top of the soil line and allow the water to drain from the bottom of the pot. The pot can then be placed on a plate or tray to finish draining and before returning it to the foil decorative wrapping.

Never allow the pot to stand in water.

Poinsettias are susceptible to root rot if they do not get proper drainage. Root rot causes the lower leaves to turn yellow and fall off.

How Often to Water a Poinsettia

Follow the rule of watering the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. You can scratch the top layer to double-check for watering needs.

If your poinsettia appears to be over-watered, the soil will feel dense and wet. Cut back on watering until the soil has a chance to dry out. A poinsettia that has gotten too much water is harder to revive than one that is suffering from a lack of water. Root rot is a risk with a potted poinsettia that has gotten too much water.

How Long Do Poinsettias Last?

A healthy poinsettia plant should last four to six weeks. Many plants can last eight weeks or more with proper care.

Some home gardeners may enjoy the challenge of caring for a poinsettia long after the Christmas season and keep it as a houseplant with the goal of a second bloom the next holiday.

Find more expert decorating tips for the holiday season.

Alice Knisley Matthias
Alice Knisley Matthias writes about food, family, education, and garden. Her work appears in The New York Times, Washington Post, Food Network, Delish, The Kitchn and Parade. Her book about healthy kid snacks is published by Scholastic. Other work includes Woman's Day, Redbook, Highlights for Children, Boys' Life, Kids Discover and America's Test Kitchen Cook's Country Cookbook.