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Sharing and caring for the Poinsettia


The beautiful Poinsettia is a colorful plant that brightens dark winter days. Whether you use it to decorate for the holiday season or it was given to you as a gift, giving the plant the care it needs can keep it colorful for six to eight weeks in the home.

The showy-colored parts of the Poinsettia are colored bracts (modified leaves). The yellow flowers or cyathia are in the center of the bracts.

Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold temperatures. When you move the plant to a vehicle or another building, protect it with a cover if the temperature is below 50°F.

Place your plant in a sunny spot, giving it at least six hours of indirect light daily. Keep the Poinsettia from cold or warm drafts and prevent the leaves from touching cold windows.

Temperature is an important factor for prolonging bloom time. The ideal daytime temperature ranges from 60 to 70°F. At night, move the plant to a cooler spot that is closer to 55°F.

Check the soil daily for moisture. The soil should not stay too wet or become too dry. Wilted plants drop their colorful bracts sooner. Water the plant when the growing media is dry on the surface. Punch holes in the decorative foil to ensure proper drainage. 

While the Poinsettia is in bloom, there is no need to fertilize. If you decide to keep the plant, you can begin to fertilize it with a houseplant fertilizer once a month after the bloom time has passed.

You can keep your Poinsettia looking beautiful for the entire holiday season with proper care. 



Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle is a Agriculture and Natural Resources (Horticulture) Educator for Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties.  She completed a bachelors of science degree in crop science at the University of Illinois, and a master’s of science degree in agronomy with an emphasis in weed science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has also worked at Montana State University as a research associate where she worked on weed control in sugar beets and barley.  She taught high school chemistry and other science classes where she was able to teach students in both the school garden and greenhouse.  She works with both the Extension Master Gardeners and Extension Master Naturalists.


ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.