Bright and beautiful until spring

Taking care of poinsettias properly

In November and December, the poinsettia is an absolute bestseller. No flowering houseplant is bought more often in the last few weeks of the year. After all, this beautiful winter favourite is considered the Christmas plant par excellence. But, Christmas aside, this attractive star also scores highly as a colourful houseplant and, with the right care, will continue to thrive well beyond the end of the year. The experts at Stars for Europe (SfE) explain what you need to do to ensure your poinsettia keeps its colourful bracts until spring.

Go for quality when buying

Poinsettias sometimes only react to the wrong treatment days later, usually by shedding their leaves. To avoid such unpleasant surprises, it’s important to look for quality when buying. Fresh, healthy plants will have dense, undamaged foliage and yellow-green flower buds between the colourful bracts. In-store, well cared-for poinsettias should be displayed unwrapped and spaced out from each other in a warm, bright spot protected from draughts. The soil should be neither dry nor soaking wet. Specialist shops will usually meet these requirements.

Pack well for the journey home

Tropical plants don’t like temperatures below 12°C or draughts. For transport on cool, windy days, wrap your poinsettias carefully in several layers of paper and get them home as quickly as possible.

Find a bright, warm spot

Poinsettias, which originated in Mexico, need sunlight and warmth. Temperatures between 15 and 22°C are ideal. In central European winters, even direct sunlight from a south-facing window is fine, as the light is not too strong. Avoid cold draughts at all costs. When ventilating a room, it’s best to move the plant temporarily to another one.

Water correctly

Poinsettias should neither become completely soaked nor dried out, although too much water is worse than a temporary lack of it. You can determine whether it’s time to water with a finger test. If the soil feels dry to a depth of about 2cm, the plant needs water. Another way to determine this is to lift the plant along with its pot. If it feels unusually light, the soil lacks moisture. Depending on the location, ambient temperature and size of the plant, you may need to water daily or every two to three days. Water with water at room temperature. You can do this in small amounts using a watering can from above, or from below by pouring water into the water tray. Another method is the immersion technique, in which the root ball is completely immersed in room temperature water for a few minutes. Afterwards, allow it to drain well. With the last method, watering once a week is usually enough. When using any of the three methods, make sure the water doesn’t sit in the tray or planter for a long time. Pour off any excess no later than 15 minutes after watering.

No need to fertilise during the first flowering

When you buy a poinsettia in November or December, the soil is already pre-fertilised, meaning it’s not necessary to fertilise your plant during the flowering period. Only if you decide to continue growing your poinsettia are regular applications of fertiliser advisable.

Should you make it bloom again?

Theoretically, it’s possible to get a poinsettia to bloom again, however, this requires a lot of effort and the plant rarely looks as impressive as it did in the first year. But even if you don’t want to make your plant flower again, you don’t have to get rid of it. After pruning at the end of the flowering period, poinsettias turn into lush green plants that do very well outdoors in the warmer months.

For more information on poinsettias and lots of ideas for decorating with them, visit

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