How to Take Care of a Poinsettia

Poinsettia plant image by Photo by C Novello


The poinsettia is the most popular plant purchased during the Christmas season. Native to Mexico, there are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias. The "flowers" or the colored parts of the plant are actually modified leaves called bracts. The actual poinsettia flower is the cyathia, the yellow structure surrounded by the bracts. During the holidays, poinsettias are commonly sold in foil-covered pots. When purchasing a poinsettia, look for a plant that is at least 2 1/2 inches taller than the container and has dark green foliage. Stay away from wilted plants and those with droopy yellow leaves.

Step 1

Ensure that the poinsettia is wrapped properly at point of purchase to protect it from the elements during transportation. Bracts and leaves can be damaged if exposed to temperatures less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Unwrap the plant and place it in indirect light once it arrives at its final destination. Keep the plant away from both warm and cold drafts.

Step 3

Check the soil daily and make sure that it remains moist. Water the poinsettia when the soil begins to feel dry. Do not let the soil dry out completely as the plant will lose leaves and the color will fade.

Step 4

Drain excess water by making holes in the bottom of the foil with a scissors or a knife. Over watering will wilt plants, shortening the lifespan of the bract.

Step 5

Rid poinsettias of pests such as mealy bugs, whiteflies and spider mites if necessary. Gently wash the plant with a mild kitchen soap and water solution or apply a mild insecticide.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not place poinsettias outside when there is a risk of frost. After handling the poinsettia wash hands thoroughly as the plant oozes a milky sap that can irritate skin. Keep children and animals away from poinsettia plants. While the plant is not poisonous, vomiting can occur if the leaves are ingested.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors or knife
  • Mild kitchen soap
  • Mild insecticide


  • University of Illinois Extension
  • Land Steward
Keywords: poinsettia, Christmas, plant, bract, care

About this Author

Claire Vindigni is a Florida-based writer who began writing full time in 2009. After starting her career in the world of journalism, she ventured into the courtroom as an attorney. Vindigni holds a Bachelor of Arts in media studies from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami.

Photo by: Photo by C Novello

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | How to Take Care of a Poinsettia