red poinsettia flowers

How to care for poinsettias

The colourful red bracts of the poinsettia have become a festive favourite. Here are some tips to keep your plants looking fabulous for weeks on end.

One of the quickest ways to introduce a festive feel into your home is to add a poinsettia plant. The beautiful red leaves, in a starry shape instantly shout Christmas. These magnificent plants are already revealing their decorative potential and on sale right now. Follow our easy care tips on buying and keeping your plants looking fabulous.

jars of biscuits and poinsettia plants on shelf

Warm and cosy

Poinsettias actually hail from tropical Mexico in South America and like to feel warm and cosy, which means you need to keep them between 15 and 22C. A living room or even a bedroom is ideal, but bear in mind that they need plenty of light too, so a spot where it gets the sunlight from a window is perfect. These plants don’t like draughts, so make sure they are in a sheltered place where they won’t suffer, otherwise they may stop to drop their leaves.

How to water poinsettias

The first thing to remember with poinsettias is that they don’t like to be overwatered. It’s better to allow them to dry out a little bit in between watering, and NEVER let them stand in water. That means you need to check the outer container around your plant pot. When you water, add a small glassful of slightly tepid water to the compost and leave for ten minutes while it soaks in. Then have a look to see whether water has drained out into the outer container or saucer. If it has, tip it away. Smaller pots will dry out faster than larger ones and if your plant is near a radiator that will make it dry out quicker too. Push a finger into the compost to see if it is dry, or lift the pot out and if it feels very light then you need to water. If it is heavy then leave it for another day or so. 

peach poinsettia flowers with hessian wrap

Feeding regime 

While the colour on poinsettias is not from flowers, but instead from colourful leaf bracts that surround the tiny central flowers, you can still feed your plants. A quality plant food, like Flower Power will keep your plant looking at its best. Feed a liquid dose once a week after purchase instead of one of the plant’s water sessions.

Buying tips

Look for healthy quality plants with fresh, undamaged leaves, small budding yellow flowers at the centre of the coloured bracts. Take a look at where and how the plants are displayed and avoid any that are in draughts at the entrance to a store, or over wet. Make sure your plant is carefully wrapped for the journey home and especially when moving it from the place of purchase to your car. If you risk it, you might think your plant has survived OK but it may still drop its leaves a few days later.

For more information on Poinsettias have a look at the Stars for Europe site

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