Dr Green Fingers: Poinsettia Plants

by Vicky Hurst

poinsettia plant

Poinsettia Plants 

Native to Mexico, Poinsettias have become a staple feature of festive decorations in the UK. Although they are a favourite amongst plant lovers at Christmas, they aren’t exactly easy to care for. Poinsettias can be tricky plants to master. They are notoriously fussy and sensitive to temperature changes, so most people rarely survive past January. Thankfully, there are specific things you can do to ensure your Poinsettia lives to see another Christmas. Here is everything you need to know about caring for your Poinsettia throughout the festive season and all year round. 

Why Poinsettias Are Popular At Christmas

It is currently estimated that over 2 million Poinsettias are sold every year, just in time for Christmas. Their festive red and green flowers scream festivity and are a great addition to your household decorations. So it may surprise you that the one piece of foliage to rival the Christmas tree wasn’t always a popular plant of choice. In their native country of Mexico, where Roman Catholicism is the predominant faith, Poinsettias are referred to as ‘Flor de la Noche Buena’, translating to Flower of the Holy Night. It is thought to have coined its name because it resembles the Star of Bethlehem. It is a popular Christmas flower that can be presented in a multitude of displays.

Poinsettia Red in 13cm Red Ceramic Pot Gift

Initially regarded as a weed, Poinsettias gained popularity after a poor young girl gave the weeds as a gift at a nativity service. The angels showed compassion toward the young girl and transformed them into the red and green flowers we know and recognise today. The plants were later rediscovered by the American botanist Joel Roberts Poinsett. While carrying out duties as the US ambassador to Mexico, he stumbled across the ‘Mexican Fire Plant’ as he called them, introducing the festive foliage to America.

How To Care For Your Poinsettia So It Lasts All Year

Poinsettias bloom between November and December, and this is typically when they will be available to buy in shops. Choosing a fully grown healthy plant with full colourful leaves is the best option for buying your Poinsettia. It may seem surprising for a winter plant, but Poinsettias require a temperature no lower than 13°C to thrive. This is usually the mistake people make when it comes to caring for their Poinsettias throughout winter. Unfortunately, once your Poinsettia has been exposed to the cold, it will go into physiological shock and begin to wilt and lose its leaves. This process cannot be reversed and will continue until the plant eventually dies off. 

Rules For Poinsettia Plants

There are a few specific factors you need to take into account when caring for your Poinsettia plant. They usually don’t require re-potting over the festive season so you can leave it until the spring. However, you must remember the conditions they like so they can flourish throughout the winter. Poinsettias like:

  • Bright, indirect sunlight
  • Warm temperatures (13-15°C) 
  • To be kept away from draughts
  • Multipurpose soil with plenty of room for drainage
  • Infrequent watering (when the surface of the soil is dry)
  • Regular misting of the bracts

Getting Your Poinsettia To Flower Again

This part isn’t always easy, but it can be done if you pay special attention to your Poinsettia plant throughout the year. You must follow some critical steps for your plant to see another festive season. You may be able to keep your Poinsettia alive for consecutive years. Still, for it to re-flower its beautiful red bracts once more, you must prune your Poinsettia early in the spring. You want to cut it back by about 10cm, keeping it at the same consistent temperature of 13-15°C. Leave your Poinsettia until May, then re-pot it in a larger pot with fresh peat-free compost. It is important not to let it get too hot throughout the summer months aiming for a temperature no higher than 18°C.


The most crucial step when trying to get your Poinsettia to re-flower is shortening its hours in daylight. Longer nights and shorter days signal your Poinsettia to start flowering, so mimicking that will help guarantee that it is ready to re-flower in time for Christmas. You should aim to move your Poinsettia into a dark room or cupboard for a minimum of 12 hours each day. 

Give The Gift Of a Plant This Christmas

Christmas basket with red cyclamen

If you have never taken care of a Poinsettia before, or you have tried and failed to keep it going longer than the Christmas dinner leftovers, why not try again this year? Following these crucial steps will set you well on the way to becoming a proud owner of a happy and flourishing Poinsettia year after year. If Poinsettias aren’t to your tastes or you are looking for the ideal gift for someone special, then we have plenty of other houseplants that would be a perfect place to start! We offer gift wrapping on all our Christmas plant gifts. Check out our Outdoor Pots & Planters selection for this Christmas. Next day delivery is available. Shop now and pay later with Klarna.

Related Content

Watering Tips For Indoor and Outdoor Plants

The Ultimate Reviews Guide to Sending Plants By Post

Plant Gifts for Every Occasion: A Green and Growing Trend