Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Make a Poinsettia's Leaves Turn Red

poinsettia image by Grits72 from

Poinsettias are beautiful holiday plants that most view as a one-shot deal. They come in all kinds of colors these days, including the ever-popular red, but after the winter season most people throw them out. This doesn't have to be the case: they are pretty green plants that you can keep alive year round. Whenever you like, you can turn them back into the festive red plants you had the year before.

Keep your plant healthy by giving it sunlight and enough water to keep the soil damp. Do not, however, keep it in full sunlight or let it stay in extreme heat. A temperature between 50 degrees and 70 degrees is best.

Prune it in the summer, leaving the best stems. If you want to turn the plant's color sooner, you can. Just prune it earlier. You can trim the plant back as early as February.

Allow the plant to grow back out without cutting off any more. If you are trying for a certain time of year, and you pruned early, just keep pinching off new growth until the time you want it to start growing. Allow at least three months of growing time to have the leaves you need for color turning.

Place the poinsettia in a dark place for about 14 hours a night, starting in early fall. Use a closet or place a dark bag over the plant. Bring it out again in the morning. If you are turning the plant earlier, just remember that you need a few months to turn it red.

Water when the plant becomes dry. You will begin to see the leaves start to turn to a red color. Keep up the dark routine until you achieve the color you wish. Warm air also helps: avoid keeping your poinsettia in a cold area.

Garden Guides