Poinsettia Selection and Care

The poinsettia is the official holiday plant. Many of us either buy one, or are given one as a gift, during the holiday season. Here are some guidelines to help you choose and care for this popular plant.


  • Plants should have an abundance of foliage that fills the stems all the way to the soil line. The foliage should be a rich green color.
  • Bracts (the colored part of the plant) should have color all the way to the edges. Avoid plants that have too much green on the edges of the bracts.
  • Plants should be balanced and full when looked at from every angle. The entire plant should be in proportion to the container it is growing in. As a standard gauge, the plant should be 2 ½ times taller than the diameter of the container.
  • The stems should be stiff, and showing no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping.
  • Plants that are on display for purchase should be in an area where they are not crowding one another, as air circulation is critical.
  • The soil should be moist, not waterlogged. If the plant is wilted and the soil is waterlogged, chances are the plant is suffering from a virus and should be avoided.
  • If the paper or plastic sleeve was removed during display, ask the garden center to replace it before taking the plant home. Chilling winds and temperatures below 50 degrees F can cause plant damage.


  • Place the plant in a bright, sunny window, but protect it from the hot afternoon sun by using a shade or sheer curtain.
  • The room temperature should be between 68 – 70 degrees F.
  • Water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. Use the finger test-stick your finger into the soil about 2 inches down. Rub the soil between your fingers; if it feels dry it is time to water. If it feels moist, wait another day and retest.
  • Fertilize the plant after the blooming season only. The flowers are the yellow centers of the bracts.
  • Keep the plant away from drafts or excessive heat.
  • Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold, so don’t expose them to temperatures below 50 degrees F.
  • When watering, allow the water to drain out of the container completely. Do not allow the plant to sit in standing water, as the roots will rot.

Enjoy the beauty of the poinsettia this holiday season.
Georgiana Marshen The Yearound Gardener- a site dedicated to greenhouse growing and everything gardening. http://www.yearoundgardener.com

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