Poinsettia Care: Tips on how to look after a poinsettia and how to make it last all over Christmas
Poinsettias are a popular plant over Christmas and they make a wonderful, festive addition to any home. With their bright red flowers, they fit perfectly into the traditional colour scheme and make great centrepieces for your Christmas table. They have a reputation for being difficult to look after because they can be sensitive to their surroundings. With our top tips on how to look after a poinsettia and keep them looking their best, they can last much longer than just Christmas day.
Tools & materials required
Getting a poinsettia home and choosing the right spot for it
Poinsettias are sensitive plants that can wilt and die if not taken care of properly. Picking the right place to put them in is a large part of the battle – get this right and your poinsettia will look great all over Christmas.
Before you leave the store, wrap your plant carefully in plastic, or put it in a plastic bag to carry it home. Unwrap it as soon as you walk through the door.
When it comes to where you put your poinsettia, remember that they are sensitive to changes in temperature – moving them from warmer to cooler spots (and vice versa) can cause the leaves to drop. They need protecting from the cold and drafts as well as direct heat, so avoid keeping them on a windowsill, above a radiator or on a mantelpiece if you’re going to have a fire in the hearth.
Once you’ve found a spot that gets a lot of light, and remains at a the ideal temperature for poinsettias of around 16 to 18 degree Celsius (°C) or 55 to 60 degree Fahrenheit (°F), leave your poinsettia there for the whole season.
The milky white sap of this plant can irritate skin. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure this plant is put somewhere that is out of the way of young children and pets.
How to care for a poinsettia
Taking good care of your poinsettia will ensure that it will last throughout the festive period.
Poinsettias should only be watered sparingly, as overwatering can be damaging. Keep an eye on the surface of the compost – only water once this has begun to dry out.
Water your poinsettia by standing its pot in a saucer of water for about 20 minutes in order to soak the soil near the bottom. After this time, drain the water away - this will prevent the poinsettia’s roots from rotting.
If your poinsettia leaves are drooping, don’t jump straight to the conclusion that it needs throwing out. Try soaking the root ball in warm water for 30 to 40 minutes – this can revive a poinsettia that has started to fade.
In order to prolong the life of the flowers or bracts (the colourful part of the poinsettia), mist the leaves slightly with a hand sprayer to create a bit of humidity.
Be sure to remove all dead leaves, and keep the soil around the plant free from any fallen poinsettia leaves.
Due to the irritating nature of the poinsettia’s sap, you need to make sure you wash your hands after handling it, or only touch it while wearing gloves.