If it’s December . . . you can be sure I have poinsettias in the house!

Maybe you do, too?

My poinsettias always start out looking gorgeous! But through the month, my poinsettias show signs of . . . not doing so good. Gradually, but predictably. Sometimes they drop leaves. Or, sometimes, the leaves stay attached but dry up like little potato chips. I’m pretty sure it’s my (neglectful) care that causes my poinsettias to wilt before the holidays even arrive, so I decided to do a quick review of “poinsettia care tips” before picking out my current batch of plants. I’m hoping to keep my poinsettias looking good . . . at least through the beginning of January.


(While I love red poinsettias best, I’m a total sucker for any plant with with “greenish” flowers, so that little guy came home with me, too.)

Here’s what I found out (because maybe these tips will be helpful for you, too).

Before I delve into those tips, though, here’s a little background. Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they are actually shrubby little bushes that bloom in December. (Wouldn’t that be cool to see!) According to poinsettia growers, poinsettias can bloom for 6 weeks to 2 months as houseplants with the proper care.

(I also can’t seem to resist a good “splatter” pattern, so I got this one, too.)

There are 4 basic poinsettia care tips:

  1. Pick the right plant. Look for tightly closed, tiny yellow flowers in the center. They should still be green-ish (with some visible yellow at the center). Once they open and turn yellow, it indicates the plant has been in bloom for awhile and won’t last much longer. If you see visible yellow pollen on the plant, it means the plant is past its prime and you should leave it where you found it.
  2. Protect your plant on the way home. Poinsettias are warm-weather plants (remember, they originated in Mexico) and don’t like to be cold. Cover them with a plastic bag if the nursery/store doesn’t provide a plant sleeve, and don’t leave it sitting in your car while you run other errands.
  3. Give your poinsettia a sunny window if you can. While they prefer lots of sun (and can tolerate full sun, which is hard to find in a northern climate in December), they will also brighten up any dark corner. Just know that they will do BEST in full sun.
  4. Keep your poinsettia well watered. (This is the key, actually.) Poinsettias need to be checked/watered frequently! If they are over-watered, they drop their leaves. If they are under-watered, the dry potato chip thing happens. According to poinsettia growers, you should check your poinsettia’s soil every day – and don’t let the soil dry out. You also don’t want to let your poinsettia sit in water that collects in the bottom of the “sleeve” or saucer. If your plant starts dropping leaves, the damage is done, and it’s not going to come back this season.

So. There you have it! Poinsettia plant care . . . just in time for the holidays! I’m going to try to pay more attention to my watering this year, and I’m going to move my plants into a sunny spot once in a while, too.  We’ll see if my plants can last through the New Year.  (Any bets?)


How about you? Are you drawn to poinsettias in December, too?