Skip to Content

3 Quick Tips Everyone With a Poinsettia Needs to Know

Bright red poinsettia at a garden center.
Now it’s the start of the holiday season.

If you’re like me and millions of other folks, part of getting ready for the holidays is purchasing a poinsettia…or three or four of them.

While many stores set up their Christmas stock before Halloween has come and gone, I find the true mark of the beginning of the holidays is when you see poinsettias in stores.

But before you grab one to bring home, read these three quick tips to keep your poinsettia looking great the whole season through.

Overhead view of festive red and white poinsettia.
So festive!

You can find them at your local garden center, the floral shop down the street, the hardware store, all the big box stores, church bazaars, that boutique several blocks over and even at your local supermarket – come late November, poinsettias are everywhere.

Related Reading: 3 Ways Stores Ruin Poinsettias + How to Pick a Plant That Will Last ‘Til Christmas

These traditional Christmas plants show up just as the temperature begins to drop.

Wild growing poinsettia on the side of a mountain.
A poinsettia growing in the wild.

Because they hale from a naturally tropical climate, they need a little extra TLC. Lucky for us, that’s easy enough to do and, with minimal effort, will cheer our homes through the entire holiday season.

Follow these three tips, and you will have a poinsettia that will grow for years to come once the holidays are over.

1. Protect Your Poinsettia for the Ride Home

Woman at a garden carrying two wrapped poinsettia plants.
Garden centers and florists have a much better handle on how to keep your poinsettia in tip-top shape.

Cold air drastically shortens the life of your poinsettia. When the plant is exposed to cold temperatures or drafts in your home, it will drop its bracts (the colored leaves) much sooner, as cold triggers the plant’s dormant period.

Pallets of wrapped poinsettias, ready for the holiday season.
While these poinsettias are wrapped, you should still put a bag over the top or have the store associate staple the top closed.

If you live in an area where winter means outdoor temperatures are below 60 degrees F, you will need to take precautions to get your poinsettia home. When you purchase one from a nursery or a floral shop, they will most likely have protective sleeves to put over the top of your plant to shelter it from the cold. If you purchase it where they don’t offer sleeves, grab a couple of extra bags and slide them over the top of the plant.

Plan to bring it straight home, so it’s not sitting in a cold car. When you get your plant home, it will be happiest in temperatures between 60-70 degrees F away from drafty doors and windows.

2. About That Shiny Protective Sleeve

A poinsettia in a plastic nursery sleeve with the word "Nope" and an arrow pointing at the sleeve.

Poinsettias are usually sold with a protective plastic nursery sleeve around the outside of the pot. They’re often printed with shiny colors or patterns representative of the holiday and make the whole thing look nicer than the nursery pot the plant is grown in. The sleeve protects the surface your poinsettia is set on. But it also enables water to collect in the bottom; this is a problem.

Poinsettias prefer moist soil at all times but hate wet feet.

To keep your poinsettia from developing rot, cut a drainage hole in the bottom of the protective sleeve and set it on a saucer. Or remove the sleeve and water the plant, allowing it to drain thoroughly before putting it back in the sleeve.

You can also ditch the sleeve entirely and display the nursery pot inside a more festive container for the holidays. Just be sure to tip it out after each watering. Water your poinsettia anytime the top one inch of soil dries out.

3. Near the Window, Not In It

A small potted poinsettia sitting on a windowsill.
Often, windows are much too bright for poinsettia. However, take into consideration which direction the window is facing.

Poinsettias love bright, indirect sunlight. The best place to display your plant is close to a sunny window, not in it. Too close, and you risk burning the leaves. Also, if you live in an area with cold winters, windows are much too cold for poinsettia. Don’t be afraid to try a few different spots until you find the right one.

Pro tip: if you have a cat, find the place where they like to snooze in the sun, your poinsettia will be happy near that spot too.

And that’s that.

A large display of poinsettia in the shape of a Christmas tree outside a building in Mexico City.
Poinsettia decorating goals.

See? I told you it was quick and easy. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a poinsettia that will look fantastic when you’re ringing in the New Year.

You can even keep it and get it to flower again next Christmas. As they tend to go dormant after the holidays, it’s even easier to care for them during the remainder of the year.

Overhead view of poinsettia bracts beginning to turn red.
Saving your poinsettia and watching them turn red again is much for fun than buying new ones each year.

You can easily propagate poinsettia by taking cuttings from your plant too.

Imagine taking that one poinsettia and turning it into five by next Christmas – instant Christmas gifts! But be careful; it’s illegal to propagate some of them.

Nope, I’m not kidding.

Finger pointing to a poinsettia label that read "Unauthorized Propagation Prohibited"

You can read all about how to propagate them and plant patents here.

Poinsettia are just one of many plants associated with the holidays. Why not bring home one of these other traditional Christmas plants to decorate your home?

Now that you’ve mastered the care and feeding of your poinsettia, can we talk about that sad Christmas cactus that hasn’t bloomed in years? Yeah.

Get the famous Rural Sprout newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Including Sunday ramblings from our editor, Tracey, as well as “What’s Up Wednesday” our roundup of what’s in season and new article updates and alerts.

We respect your email privacy

Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,