The poinsettia is a semi-tropical plant that sells as an ornamental plant during the Christmas holiday season. The plant is native to Mexico and does not tolerate cold temperatures or rapid changes of hot or cold. Poinsettias grow best in an evenly moist soil and flower during short day conditions. The plant will wilt when stressed from too little or too much water. Proper care and maintenance will increase the life span of the plant and force blooms for many years.
Keep the soil in the poinsettia moist to prevent the stems and flowers from wilting. Water the plant through the bottom drainage holes by removing the container wrapping and inserting the container in a tray of water for 20 minutes. Do not let the poinsettia sit in water for extended periods, as this promotes root rot.
Set the poinsettia plant in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight with a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees F. Make sure the area does not have hot or cold drafts, as this will damage the plant.
Extend the life of the poinsettia plant by stopping water applications once the flowers are finished blooming and the leaves begin to turn yellow and fall off. Move the poinsettia to a cool area with a temperature of 50 to 60 degrees F. Apply water periodically to prevent the roots from drying.
Cut the stems to a length of 6 inches and replant the poinsettia into containers filled with a well-draining potting soil in spring. Divide the plant if there are several growing in the original container.
Set the replanted poinsettias in an area that receives sunlight from a southern exposure, or plant in an outdoor flowerbed by burying the entire container into an area that receives afternoon shade with wind protection.
Prune new shoot growth that appears during the summer months to a length of two remaining leaves. Stop pruning the plant in mid-August to force strong growth for winter flowering.
Water the garden-planted poinsettias to keep the soil evenly moist during the hot summer months. Fertilize the plants every two weeks with a liquid flower fertilizer according to the package instructions.
Dig up the plants several weeks prior to the first expected fall frost and place them in an indoor area that receives sunlight from a southern exposure.
Force winter blooms by moving the poinsettia to a dark area or placing a dark bag over the plant each evening starting October 1 until the plant blooms. Remove the covering or move the plant back to sunlight by 8:00 am each morning.