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How to Care For a Poinsettia

Very few plants say Christmas quite like the ruby bloom of a poinsettia, and despite originating in Mexico, they brighten up many UK homes come winter time. Their Latin name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means ‘very beautiful’, and the English by which it is known today is thanks to Joel Roberts Poinsett. He imported these plants during his time as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.

As decorative as poinsettias are, they still need care like any other plant in your home, and with the right love and attention, they’ll remain stunning into the New Year and beyond. In this article we’ll be sharing our top tips for keeping your poinsettia healthy. 

Where should I buy my poinsettia from? 

We’d always recommend sourcing your poinsettia from here in the UK, as UK grown plants typically benefit from better root growth and soil quality than their Dutch grown counterparts. 

In addition to this, UK-grown poinsettias haven’t been through the stress of a long journey from the continent, which would otherwise be likely to have taken place over several days in a draughty lorry, trapped in a plastic sleeve. 

When buying a UK-grown poinsettia, choose a reputable shop or nursery, avoiding poinsettias that have been placed in a doorway, or in the fruit and veg area of a supermarket. Exposure to the cold in this way would mean you were on the back foot from the start, with a struggling plant that may not last. 

Remove the plastic sleeve that the poinsettia may have been packaged in when you get it too, to give them the space, light and air that they need. 

Where should I place my poinsettia? 

When it comes to positioning, the leaves and bracts of these cheerful plants are surprisingly sensitive, so their location needs to be carefully chosen. Extremes of temperature should be avoided, such as in the cold draught from a window or the toasty proximity of a radiator or open fire. 

You can’t go wrong with somewhere bright, but out of direct sunlight, where the temperature is consistently over 18C as a minimum. 

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, we’d urge you to avoid moving your poinsettia around too much. The bracts are quite soft and can be easily damaged, and like most plants they like to get used to one setting.

How often should I water my poinsettia? 

Poinsettias need a little and often approach when it comes to watering, particularly when they’re still in a small pot, and we’d recommend that you do so with warm water. 

In a warm room we would expect a 1L poinsettia to need 100-200 ml of water 2-3 times a week, ideally poured warm from a jug into the top of the soil. Allow it to drain over 10 minutes or so and then throw any excess water away.

One of the tricks of poinsettia care is to not let your poinsettia dry out completely, but instead touch the soil to determine its need for more watering; it should be slightly damp when properly hydrated, neither dry nor soggy. 

Should my poinsettia drop leaves?

Older leaves will naturally dry up when they have done their job, so remove any yellow, brown, or damaged leaves from the base of the plant regularly; if the plant has been stressed by cold or water at any point, you may lose a few more. Removing these leaves keeps the plant looking tidy, increases air flow, and reduces the chance of botrytis.

Can poinsettias flower next year? 

Yes, they can! Yes, they can! The delicate flowers in the centre of the display last for around 4-6 weeks but the colourful red bracts they are known for are really leaves and can last for months with a little TLC. In fact with the right care, your poinsettia can even last until the next festive season rolls around, ready to flower brighter than ever. 

How should I care for a poinsettia all year round? 

Firstly, we urge you not to dispose of your poinsettia when you take down those decorations - they’re a Christmas gift that can keep on giving. Caring for your poinsettia after Christmas means giving it a break; reduce the frequency of watering, and don’t panic when bracts drop - this is normal! 

In the summer months, move your plant back from any windows and consider repotting into a slightly larger pot. Poinsettias do best with 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness a day. To encourage the green summer leaves to turn red for Christmas, you do need to try and mimic this natural occurrence; it’s pretty tricky to do outside a commercial nursery, but if you are green fingered, it’s definitely fun to try!

When you begin to see growing shoots appearing, pinch them out to encourage branching, and give it a helping hand with regular watering and a fortnightly feed of complete soluble fertilizer. Keeping your plant healthy until the weather turns should set you up for another Christmas of knock-out red bracts. 

Can I get different coloured poinsettias? 

Deviating slightly from the red they’re most known for are the no-less-charming white poinsettias and pink poinsettias, which provide a gorgeous twist on the traditional. The care instructions for white and pink poinsettias are the same as they are for the red - if you’re a fan of poinsettias, why not opt for one of each? 

Poinsettias for delivery this Christmas 

It’s our pleasure to complete your Christmas decorations with the delivery of beautiful, strong poinsettias. We offer a range of sizes from mini poinsettias and miniature desktop plants to our extra large potfuls containing 3 poinsettias per pot make for a dramatic display at Christmas time.

At Plants4Presents our poinsettias are always packed at the very last moment, and given an extra toasty layer of cardboard insulation inside their cardboard boxes before being shipped on fast overnight services. Because of the way we pack and care for our poinsettias before they get to you, we’re confident they will last through the entire festive season, with many happy customers reporting that their poinsettias have lasted well into March.

If you know someone that would love a poinsettia plant, we can take care of that too. We’ll handwrite a message from you inside a greetings card to accompany a gift that the recipient can enjoy and look after for weeks to come. 

Be sure to order your poinsettias early this year; there was a definite shortage of British-grown poinsettias last year and we sold out of the more unusual colours the earliest we ever have. You can already preorder our Poinsettias in a range of sizes for delivery from the beginning of November. Or, of course, choose a delivery date nearer to Christmas on the order form.