Caring for poinsettia plants

Updated Dec 6, 2023
woman holding red poinsettia plant
Poinsettias are one of the most frequently gifted holiday plants.

To many, poinsettias have become a symbol of the holidays. Their colorful appeal certainly makes them a festive choice. Whether you work with poinsettias in your landscape designs or your clients have some and you want to offer advice, we've rounded up a few tips on how to care for these cheerful plants.

Proper lighting

Because the poinsettia is native to Central America, it is used to plenty of light. You should advise your clients to keep their poinsettias in a location where they will receive enough sunlight.

If you're in a warm climate and the poinsettias are outside, this is not as much of an issue. However, if your clients are bringing these plants, indoors, you should advise them to keep the plants near a well-lit window.

Lauren Quinn, PhD, botanist and expert at advises that bright, indirect light is best.

Also, keep poinsettias away from drafts and heating vents which will dry them out.

Regular watering

As with any plant, the right amount of water is also key.

"Check poinsettias daily by poking a finger an inch or more into the soil, using an inexpensive soil moisture meter, or lifting the pot knowing that heavier pots indicate still saturated soil," says Quinn. "When the soil is dry, water abundantly until water flows out of the drainage holes."

Quinn also advises removing the plant from its decorative foil covering before watering.

"Like other houseplants, poinsettias do not like sitting in a pool of water," she warns.

Remember pet safety

One final point on poinsettias is to remember that they can be toxic to pets. While there was a time that it was claimed ingesting this plant could be fatal for pets, the American Kennel Club now calls them "mildly toxic," and says ingesting this plant is rarely fatal.

Still, advise your clients that it is always in their best interest to be careful with plants around pets and children, too.

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