How to Care for Poinsettias Now and After the Holidays

Learn how to care for poinsettias even after Christmas, including how often to water poinsettias and how to get poinsettias to rebloom.

Expert Tips to Grow and Care for Poinsettias

Poinsettia Plant Christmas Star FlowerMatic Grmek/Getty Images
Poinsettia plants are popular holiday gifts.

Many people simply keep their poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) around until they’ve lost their colored leaves, and then throw them out. But a little greenery is the perfect antidote for post-holiday blues. There’s no need to throw away your poinsettia plant after Christmas. With a little care, poinsettias can be brought back to bloom year after year. We consulted the experts so you can learn how to care for poinsettias year-round.

Learn 5 fascinating poinsettia facts.

Start With a Healthy Poinsettia Plant

Close up red and white speckled PoinsettiaJulie Garrard/Getty Images
Closeup of green poinsettia flower buds

Start with a healthy, fresh plant. Houseplant grower Costa Farms says if the tiny flowers in the center of the colorful bracts are green buds, not brown or producing pollen, the plants will tend to keep their color a little longer.

Check out our favorite easy-care holiday houseplants.

Do Poinsettias Need Sun?

Pink PoinsettiaBasieB/Getty Images
Learn the proper growing conditions to help your poinsettia thrive.

At home, keep the plant away from drafts and heat, which include doorways, vents and fireplaces. Place the poinsettia in a bright sunny spot near a window—the pros at Costa Farms emphasize that “poinsettias thrive on sunlight.”

Try one of these low-light houseplants if you need an option for a dark corner.

How Often Do You Water Poinsettias?

Poinsettias also need water, but not too much. Jim Faust, an associate professor of plant and environmental sciences at Clemson University, says, “Watering once per week is sufficient,” or when the soil feels dry. Water needs will depend on the size of your plant and the humidity in your home. “Overwatering tends to be more of a problem than under watering,” he says. And it can cause the plant to lose leaves early.

Watering too often can also lead to root rot. “Never let the pot sit in water,” Jim says. Be sure to remove the decorative foil wrapper, which can trap water.

Psst—these are the top 10 blooming houseplants to grow indoors.

How to Care for Poinsettias After the Holidays

Despite your best efforts, your poinsettia will likely drop most of its leaves by March or April. Once that happens, cut it back to 6 to 8 inches tall and transplant it to a bigger pot. Keep it watered and in a sunny location. You can also move it outside for the summer months if you like.

With filtered sunlight, ample water and feedings of liquid fertilizer, your poinsettia should be an easy-care container plant. Be sure to bring it back inside before the risk of frost (here’s a helpful first and last frost dates chart). Check your poinsettia for pests and treat it if needed.

How Do You Get a Poinsettia to Rebloom?

how to care for poinsettiaMarcia Straub/Getty Images
Don’t throw your poinsettia plant away after Christmas is over.

Now you know how to care for poinsettias. Getting a poinsettia to rebloom and regain its festive color is a little trickier. This requires some hard work and dedication because poinsettias are photosensitive. To keep them blooming year after year, you need to mimic their yearly growth cycle.

Starting in October, give your poinsettia about 14 hours of total, continuous darkness in a space that’s a little bit cooler than 70 degrees, followed by 10 hours of bright light. A dark closet and a grow light on a timer work well. Just remember to keep it watered. You can also cover the plant with a box each night and put it in bright sunlight each morning. With a little luck and perseverance, your poinsettia will be as beautiful as when you first bought it.

Learn how to grow and care for amaryllis (and make the bulbs rebloom!)

Can You Grow a Poinsettia Outdoors?

If you live in zone 9 or higher, skip all the complications and just try growing poinsettias outside! Plant them in well-drained soil where they will receive plenty of sun, but avoid areas that have nighttime lighting, like streetlights or solar lighting. This will keep them from blooming. In warm climates, the tiny yellow flowers will even draw butterflies in winter!

Learn 7 surprising facts about holiday flowers and plants.

New Poinsettia Varieties to Try

Christmas Beauty Marble poinsettiaBall Horticultural Company
Christmas Beauty Marble poinsettia

Multicolored: The bright pink and white bracts of Christmas Beauty Marble make a splash. Superba New Glitter dazzles with red leaves and splashes of sparkling white.

Compact: Princettia is a very popular smaller poinsettia, grows in an attractive shape and is available in a few colors.

All White: Alaska is one of the brightest white varieties and also has holly-shaped leaves.

Not Just for Christmas: Autumn Leaves adds orange flair to Halloween or Thanksgiving. Use a pink selection like Bravo Pink for a fun Valentine’s Day centerpiece.

Next, learn how to care for a Christmas cactus.

Helen Newling Lawson
Helen Newling Lawson is an Atlanta-based garden writer and retail partnership marketing coach for Monrovia. Her byline has appeared in Birds & Blooms, Country Gardens, Georgia Magazine, Nursery Management, State-by-State Gardening and Atlanta Parent. Lawson, a lifelong gardener, has been a University of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer since 2002. She earned the Georgia Certified Plant Professional certification in 2017.