How To Care For A Poinsettia Plant

7 Poinsettia Mistakes to Avoid

How To Care For A Poinsettiattia Plant-a-poinsettia-plant
A Poinsettia Plant

Poinsettias are beautiful plants that bring with them the spirit and the joy of Christmas, working with poinsettias on many interior plantscape projects during the holidays brought much delightful cheer to many areas of the five-start resort where I once was employed including private homes.

But knowing how to properly care for poinsettias to maintain their beauty and luster during the holidays is the difference between success and failure, the proper care of these garden beauties is not difficult.

Many common mistakes have been made in an effort to keep poinsettias growing healthy all it takes is some know-how. We will be looking at seven of these common mistakes how to avoid them and how to encourage the proper care of your poinsettias that will perform their best during the winter months and beyond.

Avoiding these seven Common Mistakes will Keep Your Poinsettias healthy

Poinsettia Quick Facts

  • Poinsettias can grow outdoors during summertime
  • The colorful parts of the poinsettia are not flowers but are actually modified leaves called bracts
  • Poinsettias need both sunshine and nights to bloom
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous but the sap can cause skin and eye irritation and can also irritate the mucus membranes  and irritate the digestive system if consumed
  • Poinsettias bloom when the days get shorter


1. Keep Your Poinsettia Safe

Because poinsettias don’t like being exposed to cold weather it’s best to keep them indoors, Once you have brought them home from the store don’t leave your poinsettias outdoors before bringing them inside. Also avoid purchasing poinsettias that are sold outdoors because the cold draft can negatively impact them causing the leaves to turn yellow, and brown followed by leaf drop.

2. Insufficient Light

For poinsettias to grow their best they need the right amount of light, insufficient light will cause leaf drop, to much light exposure will encourage leaf burn which I have experienced on several occasions.

During the winter months locate an area that gets at least 6 hours of indirect bright sunlight each day, for example, a south or west-facing window. Once the warmer months return remove your poinsettia away from the window to avoid direct sunlight that will cause your poinsettia to burn.

3. Remove the Plastic sleeves immediately

Poinsettia should not be allowed to remain in the plastic sleeve,  the plastic sleeves will allow the water to collect and without having a way for that water to escape will encourage root rot because of your poinsettia consistently sitting in water.

The key is to either punch a few small holes at the bottom of the sleeves that will allow the water to drain, a saucer should be placed under the sleeve to collect the water, or remove the poinsettia from the sleeve altogether and place a saucer under the pot. After the water drains empty the saucer.

4. Too Much Water

Giving your poinsettia too much water can have a negative impact, although water may drain from the container holes if the soil is consistently saturated with water can lead to root rot so monitor the amount of water poinsettias are receiving. Your poinsettia should only receive water when the first few top inches of soil feel dry to the touch. If the soil is dry, thoroughly moisten the soil to the point that water flows from the drain holes. Then allow the soil to become slightly moist and ensure it stays this way.

5. Allowing the Soil to Become Completely Dry

Allowing the soil to dry out completely is another common mistake to avoid, just as excess water will encourage leaf drop so does underwatering, if the poinsettia’s leaves begin to wilt and fall off could be that it’s time to give your poinsettia another drink of water. Remember to make sure that the soil is slightly moist at all times.

6. The Right Fertilizer Method

Timing is so important with fertilizing application, never, never fertilizer poinsettias during the winter months which can have a negative impact even killing them. Wait until the growing season (spring through summer) returns.

Monthly applications of a liquid fertilizer can encourage poinsettias to once again produce flowers, a 20-20-20 liquid feed can work, however before applying fertilizers read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.

7. The Right Temperature and Humidity

Providing the right indoor temperature and humidity is so important for your poinsettias to thrive, a daytime temperature of between 65-75° F and nighttime temperatures of 55-60° F will keep your poinsettias healthy.

Poinsettias grow best with a humidity level between 50% and 70 %, to raise the humidity level if needed mist the leaves every other day, placing your poinsettias on a humidity tray, grouping them, or placing a humidifier nearby will help greatly.

Bonus Points Just For You

Poinsettias Insect Pests Control

Mealybug: Mealybugs are cottony white insects that do damage by sucking the plant’s fluids which cause yellowing and browning of the leaves followed by leaf drop. The excrements of mealybugs are sugary and are known as honeydew which attracts ants along with causing sooty mold to develop on the leaves. The use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will bring control.

Whiteflies: Whiteflies are small white-winged insects that also do damage as mealybugs, to determine if your poinsettias have whiteflies gently shake the plant’s leaves but be very careful however because these poinsettias are delicate and will break easily if too much pressure is applied. So be very careful and shake the leaves if tiny white insects dislodged from the plant and then quickly fly back on your poinsettia you have whitefly issues. The use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will bring control.

Thrips: Thrips are also among tiny insect pests that dose damage by extracting the plant’s fluids which leads to twisting, yellowing, and browning of the leaves followed by leaf drop. The saliva of thrips is also known to be toxic to plants, thrips are tiny rice-shaped like insects, that have slender bodies. Thrips have two sets of wings with distinctive featherlike hairs. Thrips can be controlled with either insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Fungus gnats: The larva of the fungus gnats are the culprits that do damage to plants by feeding on the root hairs and depleting the soil of essential nutrients. Damage also includes sudden yellowing of the plant’s leaves along with plant wilt, which leads to a weak and unhealthy plant. The adult fungus gnats have dark slender bodies, dark heads, and black wings.

The larvae are tiny translucent legless maggots with distinctive shiny black heads, A homemade remedy that can be used is hydrogen peroxide, ( the standard 3 % tropical variety). Thoroughly mix one part peroxide with four parts water followed by thoroughly drenching the soil till this mixture comes out of the pot or container drain holes. This solution acts as a contact and will kill larvae once they come in contact with it. Sticky card traps which can be purchased from your garden center will control adults.

In case you missed it here are other articles on the care of poinsettias

The final word on how to care for a poinsettia Plant

Keeping your poinsettias in tip-top shape during the winter months is that simple, this guide will help you to maintain and give your poinsettias the proper care encouraging them to grow their best. This guide will not only help you to maintain your poinsettia during the winter months but also when the warm season returns, poinsettias are beautiful plants that deserve our attention and tender loving care to help them along the way so they can continue to work for us as they put on their best display ever.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

4 thoughts on “How To Care For A Poinsettia Plant”

  1. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with plants, but poinsettias… I have never encountered it. But your article gave some helpful tips on watering, sunlight, and temperature requirements, which is great for beginners. As for my opinion, I think poinsettias are beautiful, but they can be a bit high-maintenance based on what I read from your blog. I mean, they need specific conditions to thrive, and if you’re not careful, they can wither away faster than you can say “poinsettia.” But hey, if anyone’s up for the challenge, she can definitely add some festive cheer to her home. One thing I’m curious about though, do poinsettias have any special benefits or uses other than being pretty decorations?

    • It may seem like a lot of work but the care of these plants is so simple, poinsettias like other indoor plants can help to purify indoor air. I hope this helps!

  2. Hey Norman, I stumbled upon your poinsettia care guide, and it’s like you read my mind! I’ve had my fair share of battles with yellowing leaves and the struggle is real. Your tip about ditching the plastic sleeves and the potential root rot just saved my plants from a watery disaster. 

    Also, who knew poinsettias had to dodge mealybugs and whiteflies? Thanks a bunch for the heads up – my little indoor garden is officially on lockdown against those tiny invaders!


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