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Indoor Plants

How to Take Care of Poinsettias

November 15, 2017 3 min read

You just brought home your poinsettias; but when do you water? How much light should it receive? Read our care tips for poinsettias, the holiday houseplant.

Poinsettias are a cherished, traditional plant for the holidays. They look excellent paired with a custom centrepiece or along fireplace mantles. Poinsettias are originally from Mexico. In the 17th century, Franciscan priests living in Mexico would use the plants in religious ceremonies.

The plant got its name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico who happened to have a passion for botany. He became enchanted by the brilliant red plant he saw which led to him sending some poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) back to South Carolina, where he began propagating the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens. By 1836 it was sold under the name recognizing the man who first brought it to the United States.

Red is a classic choice for Christmas décor, but in recent years hues of pink, white, peach and even bi-coloured varieties have hit the market. Here is our guide to one of Canada’s most famous houseplant for the holiday season; whether it is a gift for a family member or a décor piece in your home. Proper care and selection of poinsettias will ensure they last all Christmas.

Finding the freshest poinsettia

Choose plants that are strong and healthy, avoid plants that are spotted or yellowing. Check for insects by looking at the underside of the foliage. While shopping for your poinsettia look closely at the plant; you will find a large yellow nectar gland and a central pistil surrounded by a group of stamens. Look for consistent colour on the leaves.

Leaving the garden centre

Never expose your plant to extreme hot or cold temperatures. When you are leaving the garden centre, make sure poinsettias are protected with a cover or bag. Leaving your poinsettias in the car can also cause damage; a chilled or frozen plant will drop leaves quickly.

Taking care of your poinsettia

Now that your festive plant is at home place it in an area that receives bright natural light. Avoid any direct afternoon sunlight as it can cause the plant to burn. Poinsettias should be protected from drafts, such as windows or vents, and any areas where it may be excessively cold or hot.

Water your poinsettias thoroughly; when the soil surface is dry to the touch, it is time to give your plants some water. Discard any water from the tray after 10 minutes to avoid rotting roots. You can fertilize with Parkwood Flower Food 15-30-15 every two weeks.

Bright indirect light and cold night temperatures will help delay bud drop and maintain brightly coloured leaves for longer. Keep poinsettias high enough away from children and pets, the milky sap from the plant can cause an upset stomach if eaten or a rash on sensitive skin.

Clean the air

A little unknown fact about poinsettias is that they can clean the air. The leaves, stems, and roots absorb formaldehyde from indoor air.