In the Dirt by Ray Greenstreet

Caring for Your Holiday Poinsettias

by Ray Greenstreet

Deck the halls with a holiday classic: poinsettias. Available in shades from traditional red, to pastel pink, to purple, to white, to marbled and painted shades, you can easily find a plant to match your seasonal décor.

These timeless holiday bloomers do more than spread good cheer. According to studies by NASA, poinsettias purify indoor air, removing common household pollutants released by things like building materials, plastic grocery bags, inks and man-made fibers.

Keep your poinsettias looking their best by following our list of dos and don’ts.

Poinsettia To-Do List

  • Transport your poinsettia in a sleeve or roomy shopping bag that covers the plant.
  • Place your plant in bright, indirect light – enough light to read by.
  • Give poinsettias temperatures of 65º to 70º F.
  • Water when soil is dry to the touch.
  • Remove any decorative plastic or foil sleeves around the pot. Set the plant in a saucer to catch water from drainage holes.

Poinsettia Not To-Do List

  • Don’t expose plants to temperatures below 50º F.
  • Don’t place a poinsettia in direct sunlight.
  • Don’t position a plant near cold drafts or hot blasts of air. Display plants away from fireplaces, furnaces, heating ducts or frequently used exterior doors.
  • Don’t allow a poinsettia to sit in water overnight.
  • Don’t keep your poinsettia in a sleeve for longer than transport time. When buying plants to give as gifts, don’t store them in sleeves. Remove sleeves until you’re ready to transport plants to their final destination.
  • Don’t fertilize your plant while it’s flowering.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

Despite oft-repeated tales regaling the toxicity of poinsettias, these holiday trims lack a poisonous punch – to people or pets. Some individuals who are allergic to latex may experience a mild reaction if they contact the plant’s milky sap. Other than that, this holiday charmer is a mild-mannered, safe addition to your seasonal celebrations.


  • Place poinsettias in indirect light and away from hot or cold drafts.
  • Water poinsettias only when the soil is dry. Don’t allow plants to sit in water overnight.
  • Remove poinsettias from sleeves as soon as you get them home.
  • Keep plants warm. Temperatures below 50º F shorten the plant’s life.

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