Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are iconic holiday plants native to Western Mexico. They were first introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett, an American politician, and botanist who served as the first envoy to Mexico from the USA.
Poinsett was so taken with these beautiful flowers that he brought them back to America and cultivated them himself. As a result, few plants are as omnipresent to the winter holiday season as these gorgeous deciduous shrubs.
Traditionally, Poinsettias bloom with a bright red flower, bringing festive joy to the holidays. But there are hundreds of cultivars cultivated with different colored flowers over the years. They range from orange, green, pink, white, and marbled. You can even get yourself a blue Poinsettia these days, which is a dye painted over the naturally occurring color.
- Poinsettia Main Characteristics
- Poinsettia Care
- Propagating Poinsettia
- Potting and Repotting Poinsettia
- Common Pests
- Common Problems
- Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Indoor Care Guide (Video)
Poinsettia Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Poinsettia, Christmas Flower, Flame-Leaf Flower, Lobster Flower|
|Botanical Name||Euphorbia pulcherrima|
|Native Range||Western Mexico|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9 to 11|
|Mature Size||Height: 3-12 feet; Spread: 3-8 feet|
|Bloom Time||Spring, Winter|
|Propagation methods||by stem cuttings|
|Sun||Full sun, Partial Shade|
|Soil||Moist, Good Drainage|
Poinsettia flowers make a great addition to any holiday decorations. They grow in many climates across the US and can be grown outdoors or indoors. They are easy to care for and come in various colors.
Light and Location
A Poinsettia’s light needs vary between full sun, partial sun, and shade. The poinsettia prefers the morning sun; however, it can tolerate some afternoon exposure. It needs to be placed in an area with good air circulation, promoting leaf growth.
The best way to water Poinsettias is to let the soil dry out completely between waterings. You want to water this plant regularly but make sure that the soil has good drainage properties.
Don’t let it sit in the soil for too long after it gets soaked, as that can easily lead to root rot. Instead, either use specific materials that help it dry quickly or make holes in the sides of the pot to provide drainage channels.
Poinsettias thrive in warm temperatures, between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but any lower, and there is a high chance they may end up wilting away.
Most importantly, protect them from chilly drafts or cold winds. When indoors, move to a more central location with a less sudden draft.
Poinsettias also prefer high humidity (50-75%), so you can mist them regularly or place them in a room with a humidifier. You can also put it over a moist bed of pebbles.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when fertilizing. First, if you’ve bought your plant in winter and plan to keep it year-round, don’t begin fertilizing right away; wait for spring. Then, in April, start fertilizing and use a balanced liquid fertilizer twice a month. Keep this going until the blooming season starts, and then repeat the cycle.
Poinsettias are used as holiday decorations for Christmas and New Year’s Day. These plants produce beautiful colors during this time of year, which many people take advantage of by placing them in their homes. They mostly have bright red flowers with green leaves.
Also check out: 33 Exceptional Flowering Succulent Plants (with Pictures)
However, if red and green are not your style, hundreds of cultivars are commercially available for these plants with wildly different colored flowers. They range from cream, yellow, pink, burgundy, and white. There are even some black-colored ones!
Pruning is necessary for the overall health of the plant. You can prune them at any time of the year, but it’s best to do it after the blooms have faded. Then, they can be trimmed back by up to one-third of their height without harming the plant.
The best way to propagate Poinsettias is to take stem cuttings from the plant. To do this:
- Cut a stem from the Poinsettia about six inches long and remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem.
- Dip the end of the stem in rooting hormone, then place it in a pot of soil.
- Keep the soil moist, and in about two weeks, you should see new roots emerging from the stem.
Potting and Repotting Poinsettia
The Poinsettia can be potted in a loam-based soil mix with some perlite since it has good drainage properties. Before potting, make sure to drill a hole in the bottom of the pot to be on the safe side. These plants are deathly afraid of root rot, and any overwatering or stagnant water will do that to them.
The best time to repot your Poinsettia plant is early summer or late spring. Wait until the plant has outgrown its container, but before the roots have begun to spill over. Then, get a pot slightly larger than the original and use a new potting mix.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) contain a milky white irritant sap that can cause skin irritation if it contacts the skin of sensitive individuals (those allergic to latex). When ingested, these plants may lead to an upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhea.
Poinsettia plants can be susceptible to several pests, including aphids, mealybugs, soft scales, whiteflies, and spider mites. Indoors, these are seldom a problem. But for the rare occasions when infestations occur, use insecticide or rubbing alcohol, depending on the severity. You should see your plant become healthy once again with the proper care.
Are the leaves and bracts turning pale?
Sometimes this happens due to age. But to be safe, move your plant somewhere with more sunlight. And decrease the temperature slightly if it’s above the recommended range.
Brown tips or edges on leaves or bracts?
Browning anywhere on the plant is a sure sign of dry air. Increase the humidity around the plant. The easiest method is to mist it daily. But you can also use a humidifier.
Yellowing, dropping leaves?
Your plant could be too hot and dry, or it might not be getting enough light or water.If the leaves are yellowing and falling off, this could be for a few reasons.
- Too hot – Move it to a slightly chillier spot.
- Too dry – Mist the leaves and place the plant on a bed of wet pebbles.
- Underwatering – If the compost is dry, give it more water.
- Too little light – Move it to a brighter spot with more sunlight.
No more bracts?
No bracts are a sign that the blooming season is over, but they will come back in spring if you keep caring for your plant until then. If you want the plant to flower again in winter, refer to the above guide.
Leaves wilting and falling off?
If your leaves are wilting, they’re going to start to fall off not long after. There are a few possible reasons this could occur.
- Cold temperature or droughts – Move it to a warmer spot, preferably somewhere that’s closed off from open windows and doors, so no sudden drafts blow in.
- Under or Overwatering – Underwatered plants need to be soaked for an hour in water. Whereas with overwatered plants, you want to check for root rot and remove any affected parts. Refer to the watering guide for the right routine.
- Sudden change in environment – Move it back to its previous location and acclimate it gradually to the new one.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Indoor Care Guide (Video)
Are Poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs?
Poinsettias are mildly poisonous to cats and dogs. Ingesting a plant may result in vomiting or an upset stomach, but the effects are very mild and fade after a few minutes. There is no need to contact the vet; they’ll recover on their own.
How to pronounce Poinsettia?
Poinsettia pronunciation is poin-set-ee-uh. And its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, can be pronounced as yoo-FOR-bee-ah pul-cher-REE-mah. These are the correct phonetic spelling.
How often to water Poinsettias?
Water these plants regularly but only when the soil is dry to the touch. Ensure proper drainage channels as these plants quickly die if overwatered.
How long do Poinsettias last?
Most people use these plants as holiday decorations in winter and discard them afterward. But if you want, with the proper care, you can make this plant last for over three years.
Can Poinsettias be outside?
You can move these plants outside, provided a few conditions are met. First, the weather must not fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at any point. Secondly, the air should not be too dry. And lastly, these plants should not be exposed to any artificial light at night.