Caring for poinsettias

Special to Atmore News

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Poinsettias reign supreme as the main flowers of the holiday season. Also known as the Christmas flower, these beautiful plants offer a variety of colors that compliment any holiday decorations. During Christmas, red and green poinsettias are the most common. However, there are a wide variety of other colors, including pink, white, orange, marbled, pale green and cream. To keep poinsettias thriving through the holidays, there are few things people must do.
Choosing the plant
Chip East, an Alabama Extension commercial horticulture regional agent, said to have a vibrant poinsettia through the season, the first step is choosing the correct plant.
“When picking a poinsettia, choose one with colorful bracts but one that the blooms have not opened,” East said.
Bracts are the colorful leaves most people associate with the plant. The actual poinsettia flower is the small green or yellow flower in the center of the bracts. Plants should appear full, with dark green leaves attached from the colored bracts to almost the base of the plant. The leaves should be completely free of disease and insects.
Care and maintenance
Poinsettias do not tolerate high moisture or shaded areas. After purchasing, place the poinsettia in a windowsill when possible. They can be moved to areas for display when needed. They thrive in bright sunlight with moderate temperatures no higher than 70 degrees. However, if the sunlight is too direct, the bracts will discolor.
“If a decorative wrap is around the pot, remove the plant from the wrap before watering,” East said. “Allow the water to drain before placing the plant back in the wrap.”
The average lifespan of an attractive poinsettia is about two to four weeks, or with exceptional care, six to eight weeks. However, it is actually a perennial plant that could live for many years. If someone wants to attempt to reflower and maintain their poinsettia, it will need more attention than in the Christmas season.
“Getting a plant to reflower is difficult for the home grower but can be done,” East said. “Spending time to reflower a poinsettia would make a home grower appreciate the nursery that originally grew it.”
More information
For more information on caring for Christmas poinsettias, visit or contact your county Extension office.