Poinsettia Care Tips


The challenge with poinsettias is - there's no middle ground - they're either healthy and thriving or they're dying.

Poinsettias are NOT poisonous. For years poinsettias have undergone rigorous testing and there is no evidence that these plants are poisonous.
In fact, you would have to eat several bushels of leaves to get as much as an upset stomach.

Poinsettias have a milky white sap that is bitter to taste. If children get it on their hands or in their mouth - it tastes bad but it isn't going to hurt them. Nor will it hurt pets.

Watering Guidelines for Poinsettias

The #1 killer of poinsettias is incorrect watering. 

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are members of the Euphorbia family - which are cactus!  It's no wonder overwatering is a common problem. Poinsettias don't like wet feet and need to dryout between waterings.

The most practical way to judge watering is by weightLift the plant - if it feels light - like the pot is full of feathers, it's time to water. If it feels heavy - like the pot is full of bricks, better wait.

Typical watering schedule for poinsettias.

Amount of
Table Top
4 1/2"
a week

1/2 cup
Table Top

a week

1-2 cups
Table Top
7" or 8" once
a week
2-3 cups

a week

1-2 qts

Grower Tip: Applying water to dry soil can be tricky. When watering, make sure the soil is actually absorbing water. Water slowly at first, then apply full amount. Plant food is not necessary.

More Plant Care Tips

Buy only "fresh" plants - The actual poinsettia flower is at the top of the plant and looks like a flower bud. The brightly colored leaves that give the plant its color are called bracts. The "flowers" at the top should be just emerging and look fresh and healthy. If they're shriveled or missing, the plant has been mishandled or its past its prime. Skip it!

Actual flower is yellow and at the top of the plant. The red leaves are called "bracts".

Keep plants as cool as possible - Avoid hot air drafts from the furnace. You'll feel a chill long before your poinsettias will. 

Allow plenty of time for plants to dry out between waterings. Poinsettias are related to cactus and they don't like wet feet.

The amount of light your plants get isn't a major issue. In fact, poinsettia flowers last longer away from the sun. The season for these plants is short and they've stored up enough energy to get through the holiday season. (Cool temperatures are more important than light.) 

Poinsettias are not meant to be kept as houseplants all year long. They're grown to provide color for the holidays - and that's it. They typically hold their color for 4-6 weeks and then begin to decline.

 Be careful buying plants in plastic wrappersPlastic wrappers make watering impossible while plants are sitting in the store. Many plants become dehydrated and their leaves wilt from lack of water.  Avoid plants with droopy or wilted leaves because they rarely recover. 

Choose plants carefully. Wilting, droopy leaves rarely recover.

Want to make poinsettia care easy?  See Setting Up Poinsettias in Our Self Watering System!

Setting Up Poinsettias in Our Self Watering System

Getting Your Poinsettia to Rebloom