Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

Over the years, many of my friends have asked about keeping poinsettias alive after the holidays. So here is what I’ve learned over the years. I have lost count of the questions I’ve been asked about how not to kill these beauties, so rather than take a chance on omitting someone, I’ll not mention the names of those who asked. What I will do is share what I have learned about caring for poinsettias.

How to Care For Your Poinsettia:

Poinsettias, how we love them!  They are enjoyed by so many this time of year, yet so many are killed shortly after the New Year. Okay, maybe not intentionally killed — maybe loved to death by too much water or not enough light indoors. Many suffer from dry indoor heat, and are often neglected after the holidays. Could it be that we simply don’t know how to care for them? Nah, it couldn’t be that… well, maybe.


Light:  Poinsettias need full sun: at least 6 hours per day.


Hardiness: Poinsettias are cold hardy in USDA Zones 9B – 11. I live in Zone 9a which is north of 9b, so I will take no chances if we get below-freezing temperatures, which we may get in January or February. They are happiest at temps above 50 F.


Water:  The soil should feel moist and cool when touched, but not soaking wet; too much water is as bad, if not worse than too little. If your potted poinsettia feels very lightweight when you pick it up, it probably needs water. Just feel of the soil to see if it’s dry. If it needs water, take it to a sink and water it well, allowing the excess to drain away.


Be sure to remove the decorative foil that comes with most poinsettia purchased during the holidays when watering these delicate plants. This is true for any potted plant — those foil wrappers are death traps, as they allow the plant to sit in water that has escaped the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. You definitely want this water to be able to drain away completely.

If you are diligent about checking for water collected in the foil wrapper, you could leave the foil on, but only if you know you will remember to check on it. Will you remember if the phone rings, or the baby cries, or the doorbell rings? Not me. So I remove the foil during the watering process, then replace it after I’m done. On the other hand, if I have a pretty cache pot to put the ugly plastic pot into, I trash the foil and use the pretty pot.


Enjoy your holiday flowers, and your holidays.


Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah! and Happy New Year!


2 thoughts on “Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays”

  • I bought a small potted poinsettia 3 weeks before Christmas and watered it sparingly, but it died before Christmas day. I used to live in Africa, and we had a big poinsettia tree in our garden, so I thought I knew what they like as tropical plants. But I forgot one of the most important ingredients which you mention in your article: several hours of sunlight. Mine was in a rather dark room.

    Now someone has just given me another one as a present, so I shall keep it on the window ledge in brighter conditions. Thanks for the information and happy New Year.

    • Hi Diana, Happy New Year to you, too. Yep, that sun is a big deal with those poinsettias. Good luck with the new one. Let me know how it does for you.

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