Growing Poinsettia

Growing Poinsettia
The Christmas holidays are the time that big box stores, nurseries, and a variety of other stores are filled with beautiful poinsettias. Although generally grown as a houseplant, in the right climate they can be planted outside. This is a page about growing poinsettia.


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January 27, 2009

I have always considered myself to be a good plant person. I own 9 very large African violets, one spider, Christmas cactus, poinsettia, pot of begonias and several medium bamboo. However very successful with the African violets, every once in a while a bamboo dies which I'm told shouldn't happen. My cactus isn't showing much sign of growth either.

Every time I've tried a poinsettia, they die in two weeks. I carefully water it, it gets sunlight whenever it is shining in the SE. My two ideas were that I should re-pot them in better soil and should stop bottom feeding. If you can help me keep my poinsettia alive that would be great.

Hardiness Zone: 6b

Jordan from Farmington, MI


By anna (Guest Post)
January 27, 20090 found this helpful

Well I keep poinsettias for years and what I've learned is first off always plant in a clay pot with lots of good drainage. They hate to have wet feet. I keep mine in a sunny yet cool window in the winter.

As soon as the danger of frost has passed mine go outside, but not in direct sunlight, they will burn quickly. I water them well once a week, and lightly feed once a month. They stay outdoors just before the first frost. I believe this is the key to them flowering come winter.

When they come in I stop feeding and water very little till the middle of November, then I give them a good feeding and start watering, and in a couple of weeks their beautiful red flowers begin and last until the end of summer. I treat my xmas cactus the same way, and it's over 30 years old, and blooms every year, HTH

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January 28, 20090 found this helpful

Pointsettias are really tropical plants I believe - so they rarely last long - don't even know how long they last in their own environment.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 398 Posts
January 28, 20091 found this helpful

Poinsettias are really sensitive and tropical plants, cant stand particular things like drafts, temp changes, too much light over half a day will cause them to fade. I have lost bamboos after about a year too. Have you tried a light fertilizer on it? They are probably too picky to last really long. Good luck anyway :)

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By Biblequest, Seattle (Guest Post)
January 30, 20090 found this helpful

I found this article on-line and use it for my guide. I hope it helps.

DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can't be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.


DO provide room temperatures between 68 - 70° F. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia.
DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.

DO use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.

DON'T place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
DON'T expose plants to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.
Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely.
DON'T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.


DON'T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.

How to Re-Bloom Your Poinsettia
When the poinsettia's bracts age and lose their aesthetic appeal, there's no reason to throw it out. With proper care, dedication and a certain amount of luck, you too can re-bloom your poinsettia!
By late March or early April, cut your poinsettia back to about 8" in height. Continue a regular watering program, and fertilize your plant with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer. By the end of May, you should see vigorous new growth.

Place your plants outdoors, where they can bask in the warmth of spring and summer, after all chance of frost has passed and night temperatures average 55° F or above. Continue regular watering during the growth period, and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.


Pruning may be required during the summer to keep plants bushy and compact. Late June or early July is a good time for this step, but be sure not to prune your plant later than September 1. Keep the plants in indirect sun and water regularly.

Around June 1, you may transplant your poinsettia into a larger pot. Select a pot no more than 4 inches larger than the original pot. A soil mix with a considerable amount of organic matter, such as peat moss or leaf mold, is highly recommended. In milder climates, you may transplant the plant into a well-prepared garden bed. Be sure the planting bed is rich in organic material and has good drainage.
The poinsettia is a photoperiodic plant, meaning that it sets bud and produces flowers as the Autumn nights lengthen. Poinsettias will naturally come into bloom during November or December, depending on the flowering response time of the individual cultivar.


Timing to produce blooms for the Christmas holiday can be difficult outside of the controlled environment of a greenhouse. Stray light of any kind, such as from a street light or household lamps, could delay or entirely halt the re-flowering process.
Starting October 1, the plants must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Accomplish this by moving the plants to a totally dark room, or by covering them overnight with a large box. During October, November and early December, poinsettias require 6 - 8 hours of bright sunlight daily, with night temperatures between 60 - 70° F. Temperatures outside of this range could also delay flowering.

Continue the normal watering and fertilizer program. Carefully following this regime for 8 to 10 weeks should result in a colorful display of blooms for the holiday season!

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By (Guest Post)
January 30, 20090 found this helpful

I can't help with the bamboo, but I pretty much neglect my poinsettias and they seem to thrive for me. I only water it when it looks like it's about to wilt. I water it well...let it sit a few minutes, then I drain whatever water is left in the saucer so that it is not sitting in water. It sits on my dining room table and gets decent light there. I don't even repot mine when I bring them home from the nursery. Works fine for me. I don't have the patience to get them to "bloom" again, but I sometimes put them outside in the summer and grow them as an annual (just for the green foliage).

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January 30, 20090 found this helpful

I just replied to your post with a picture and didn't realize that I wasn't logged in. My post should show up momentarily.

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By freebyrdz (Guest Post)
January 30, 20090 found this helpful

I have what I call a "dead" thumb. I kill everything. I either over water or under water. I even kill cactus. But one year I brought home the usual "2 week Christmas plant", my poinsettia. I marked on the calendar when I watered it and noticed that it looked like it needed it again on the 3rd day. I gave it half a small juice glass of water. So I marked off all the days ahead of time that I should water it, every 3rd day.

To my disbelief, it lasted until November, 11 months later! I was so mad at myself for getting too busy with the Christmas craziness and neglected my poor plant and killed it. I will try to do better next time, who knows I might turn into a "greenish-brown" thumb.

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By Denise (Guest Post)
January 31, 20090 found this helpful

Advice I received as a resident of Maine, is to be sure you keep your pointsettia out of drafts. I believe bottom feeding is a great method to water all plants.

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Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 66 Requests
February 28, 2008


Does anyone know how to grow a poinsettia to tree size (about 5 feet)? I've seen these in stores and they really don't cost that much. The problem is getting it home. They break so easily as it is, they will never survive being crammed into my tiny car. I don't know anyone who could lend me a truck or van. Do you need a certain kind ofPoinsettia (fast growing?) for these?

Curious Cat from South Norfolk, VA


Curious Cat,

Frugalsunnie (see post in feedback forum) has provided you with some excellent information on growing Poinsettias, so I have very little to add. I will say, however, that my limited understanding of 'Poinsettia Tree Production' (which I have personally never tried) comes from a technical bulletin produced by the Paul Ecke Ranch, in Encinitas, California. They are undoubtedly one of the largest (if not THE largest) producers of poinsettias in the United States.

According to the bulletin, certain poinsettia cultivars are indeed much better adapted to producing high quality trees due to their tree - like characteristics - large bracts (leaves) and strong stems. Which ones exactly, I don't know. The ultimate height and shape of a poinsettia tree is also directly dependent on the amount of growing time before what industry growers call the 'first pinch' (a.k.a the first pruning). Apparently, poinsettia trees can be double or triple pinched depending on the final size and shape desired. As an example, producing a 4 - 5 foot poinsettia tree with a lollipop shape requires planting your root cuttings in April, pinching/pruning them for the first time in July, for a second time in August and again for a third time in September. None of this pinching/pruning has anything to do with color production. As Frugalsunnie mentioned, that requires additional attention to light cycles.

None of this information is meant to deter you from trying this on your own, but rather just some interesting information I ran across while visiting their web site:

Good luck!



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January 27, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi Curious!

I'm a two state Master Gardener with a bit of experience with the lovely Poinsettia, so I think I can give you some worthwhile feedback.

The Poinsettia is really a weed discovered in the 19th century by an American traveling in Central Mexico. He brought it back to America, and its popularity was immediate.

The plants available today have been hybridized and require a lot of work to keep them going beyond the first season you purchase them. You can try planting them outside after the holidays depending on your planting zone in a darker corner of your yard; I say darker because to flower (the actual flower is the little yellow 'bead', the gorgeous red is leaf) the plant requires up to 14 daily dark hours. Floridians and Lower Alabamians really do just toss the plant out the back door and forget about it:) It makes an interesting yard plant.

Because the plant is still a weed even though it has been hybridized (mainly to encourage all those lovely colour variations), the stem will turn to wood and basically become a trunk after a year or two in the ground. The foliage and flower sets will mainly grow at the top, giving the plant a tree look without your having to prune a thing.

You can achieve the same results in a container; you'll need a large enough container to support healthy roots-Poinsettia hates wet feet but likes to be evenly moist while given opportunity to dry between waterings; be prepared to 'pot-up' at least every couple years; it would be easier on your back to put your potted Poinsettia on rollers, then you can roll it into a closet on schedule so that it receives its needed dark hours for flowering-you'll need to figure out the time by watching the sun patterns in your area, and the hours of light the plant gets if you've chosen to make it a large house plant; roll it into the dark place so that your plant is worked into 14 hours of dark by late August or very early September. By Thanksgiving your plant will be beautiful, and ready to display.

You'll need to feed it a little something every and then, I used a Jobe's Grow Spikes package that listed Poinsettia.

Several good books-look for the most current because these plants really are hybridized, and new information comes out with each crop-are out there about Poinsettia culture, and include two warnings:

Patents are in place for any Poinsettia you've purchased and are fiercly protected-you can't sell cuttings or other plant parts if you've purchased the plant commercially from a nursery (the best source of quality plants), home imrovement stores (the second best source) or one of the 'Marts or grocery.

Over-wintering Poinsettia is a pain in the neck, and it is easier to simply toss the plant when it gets ugly (and Poinsettia does, trust me:) and purchase new the next holiday season. But everyone should try, it's great fun if you're prepared for the work.

I tried one time, collecting all of the ones my friends were throwing out after New Year's. I got the plants into one huge container on my Lower Alabama deck, and took very great care of the thing, even getting my then husband to construct a cover so the plants could get their dark hours.

It was the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time, and a hard freeze killed it off overnight the week after Thanksgiving.


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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 205 Posts
November 18, 2010

Last year I found some fantastic month by month tips on keeping a poinsettia alive and coaxing it to bloom again year after year. I followed them to the letter and my poinsettia was doing beautifully. I was looking forward to it being bigger and prettier this year.

But in late September all of a sudden it dropped all the new leaves and brackets it had grown and withered and died. I can't figure out why. Can anybody help me so I can try again this year?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Cricket from Parkton, NC


November 19, 20100 found this helpful

I saved a poinsettia from last year after reading a tip to just pour your left over coffee in each day. It has worked beautifully! That is really all I did other than cut it back after last Christmas and it has done great. I have never been able to keep them alive before.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 205 Posts
November 22, 20100 found this helpful

gr8dnm, this is great except I don't drink coffee except rarely and when I do I put cream and sugar in it. I've got no problem with making some for the plants tho. How many cups should I give it every day?
I'm bound and determined to find a way to keep them from year to year!

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May 23, 2016

I would like to plant or place my poinsettia outdoors, I live in central Indiana. It has become a tree, which is fine, I just want to keep it living. Any suggestions? Thank you.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
July 17, 20170 found this helpful

You can't grow it outside in Indiana. It is a tropical plant. It can die in temps under 45 degrees.

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November 20, 2015

Here on the Portuguese Algarve there are several poinsettia trees growing in gardens which now, in November, have the red leaf bracts we expect on our indoor plants. I have tried growing on a plant from a few years ago; it is now in a very large (unmovable) pot so I cannot move it to a dark place when specified.

How come, therefore, the trees which are outdoors all year still turn red?

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January 28, 2014

I am English, but live in southern Spain and just before Christmas was given a beautiful poinsettia tree. It is about 100cm (40 inches) tall and the top 2/3 has bright red bracts. It is in a pot 20cm (8 inches) wide. It stands near a window, good light but no direct sunlight. I water it about once a week.

However, this last week or so it has started dropping leaves, several a day and I am concerned about its future care. We never get frosts and winter temperature is fairly mild, usually high 50s low 60sF, seldom below 50F (8C).

We have a large very sunny terrace and could keep it there in a larger pot, which I would prefer or it could go in a smaller lawn area in the ground, but there is not much room there and it's not sunny all day as on the terrace. Which would be best? I have read a lot about these plants needing lots of dark time (overnight), but can it stand the hot sun we get in the summer?

Should it be pruned at all, if so, at what stage? Any help anyone can give us would be much appreciated as we would not like to lose this lovely plant/tree. Thank you.

By Jackie W.

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January 5, 2012

I saved this from the trash 3 years ago, it was a mostly dead stick. With lots of care, it is now thriving at over 6 feet tall! Storms have knocked it down, bugs have eaten it up, and it comes back each time and is now the centerpiece of the yard!

By Steve

Growing Poinsettia Outside

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August 4, 2006

This tree is actually a poinsetta plant; it was a Christmas gift from my family a few years ago and I trained it as a tree form. It has full green lush leaves on it and it is a conversation piece on my back deck that it sets on. I have a small nativity scene at the base near the trunk of the "tree" and an ornament "J-o-y" hanging on one of its branches.

By WandaJo from Collierville, Tennessee

Poinsettia "Tree"

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