10 Expert Tips for Gorgeous Poinsettias

BHG.com Garden Editor Justin Hancock shares his secrets for buying beautiful poinsettias -- and keeping them beautiful as long as possible.


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  1. Look for healthy plants. Choose a poinsettia with colorful bracts (which you might think of as petals) and rich green leaves. Pass by plants that have yellowed or wilting leaves; these plants don't last as long.
  2. Avoid plants in sleeves. Poinsettias are sometimes sold in paper or plastic sleeves to help protect the plants during shipping. Sleeved plants usually age faster than plants that aren't grown in sleeves.
  3. Select plants with fully colored bracts. Make sure the colorful leaf-like bracts don't have green edges; a lot of green in the bracts usually means the poinsettia was shipped too early.
  4. See how mature the poinsettia is by looking at the tiny yellow flowers at the center of the bracts. If the flowers have opened and you can see yellow, powdery pollen, the plant is past its prime. Look for a plant with tight yellow buds.
  5. Protect your plant when you bring it home by wrapping it in a shopping bag if temperatures are below 50 degrees outside.
  6. Keep your poinsettia away from heat. Warm temperatures can damage the plant just as much as cold temperatures. Avoid placing your poinsettia near heat registers, fireplaces, or in rooms where the temperature stays above 80 degrees.
  7. Display your poinsettia in a spot with bright light. Your poinsettia will do best if you keep it a spot with bright but indirect light. A north- or east-facing window is usually ideal.
  8. Water your poinsettia when the potting mix feels dry to the touch. It should happen before the poinsettia starts to wilt. Avoid overwatering and don't let your plant sit in water for more than 30 minutes.
  9. Let the poinsettia's roots breathe. Poinsettias are often sold in plastic or foil pot covers. These decorative covers trap excess water. Cut off the very bottom of the pot cover or make several holes in it and set the plant on a plate or saucer to catch excess water.
  10. Feed your poinsettia with a general-purpose houseplant food after the bracts fade if you want to keep the plant for the following year. Keep feeding through spring and summer, then in late September place your poinsettia where it will get bright light during the day but no extra light at night. After an 8-week period without light at night, your poinsettia should develop bracts and blooms.

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