Poinsettia in the home

Table of Contents

Poinsettia flower-1 Traditionally, on New Year’s Eve, bright red, pink or white bouquets in pots appear on the shelves – these are poinsettias, one of the symbols of Christmas.

Its variegated leaves are mistaken for florets by many, but only a caring and patient florist manages to see the real flowering of home poinsettias.

What to do with poinsettia after the holidays? If you want the plant that decorated your holiday so diligently to stay in the house, give it a minimum of attention, and you do not have to buy a new pot of “Christmas star” every year.

  • Is it really necessary to transplant poinsettias every year?
  • At what period does a poinsettia need to be fertilized every two weeks?
  • How to spray poinsettias during flowering?
  • How to protect yourself when working with this flower?
  • How to propagate poinsettia at home?
  • Why do poinsettia leaves turn yellow?

Let’s figure it out together.

Planting and caring for poinsettias

  • Flowering: Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
  • Lighting: bright diffused light (western or eastern windows).
  • Temperature: During growth and development 18-25 ˚C, during flowering 16-14 ˚C, during resting 14-12 ˚C.
  • Watering: Water regularly and abundantly in summer, in winter the soil should be barely moist.
  • Humidity: during flowering regular sprinkling with warm water is recommended.
  • Fertilizing: from spring to autumn every two weeks with a complex mineral fertilizer. During flowering the emphasis is on the potassium component.
  • Pruning: twice a year: in April at a height of 15 cm and after transplanting to form the bush.
  • Dormancy period: six to seven weeks in March-April.
  • Repotting: every year after the dormancy period.
  • Propagation: by cutting.
  • Pests: thrips, mealybugs, whiteflies, scale, spider mites.
  • Diseases: gray rot, powdery mildew, fusarium.
Read more about growing poinsettias below

Euphorbia pulcherrima, or poinsettia, is a plant of the genus Molochaia in the Molochaceae family, which naturally grows in the tropics of Mexico and Central America. Poinsettia is an evergreen shrub, which reaches four meters high in places, in culture poinsettia is a bush of height 30-50 cm. Its leaves are dark green, elliptical, petiolate, with serrated edges, 10-15 cm long. Flowers are yellowish, small, collected in rosette-like inflorescences, but around them form bright red bracts, which uninitiated people think flowers. Currently, breeders have bred poinsettia varieties with pink, white, yellow and even bicolor bracts. The poinsettia flower got its name in honor of the first American minister of Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was fond of botany and was fascinated by the beauty of the beautiful milkweed. Poinsettia blooms around Christmas time, so it is sometimes called “Star of Bethlehem” or “Christmas Star.”

Growing Features

Flowering poinsettias are bought in the store and given to loved ones at Christmas. It usually dies after flowering, but if you put some effort into it, you can make your one-time poinsettia into a perennial that decorates your home every Christmas.

Here are some tips to help make poinsettia features your allies:

  • As soon as the leaves begin to fall, reduce the watering of the poinsettia so that the soil is almost dry and stop feeding, cut the poinsettia stems back to 15 cm from soil level, move it to a dark cool place and let it sleep until May;
  • In May, to encourage the plant to start growing, put it in a well-lit area and start watering and feeding it with mineral fertilizer. Once the plant is starting to grow, transplant it into new soil;
  • In early October place the plant in a light box or in a cupboard overnight so it can sit up to 14 hours a day and encourage the plant to have its buds;
  • As soon as the bracts start to open, take care of the plant as usual.
Poinsettia plant-2 Pictured: Poinsettia in full bloom

A peculiarity of poinsettia is that the milky sap it secretes is poisonous. It is especially harmful to the eyes. In some cases, poinsettia sap provokes allergies. When entering the gastrointestinal tract can cause vomiting and intestinal upset. To avoid these troubles, wear gloves before pruning and transplanting poinsettias. Poisonousness is a trait that all thrush plants have in common, though home care for thrush varies quite a bit depending on the species of plant.

Caring for poinsettias at home

Care rules

Poinsettia likes to live on the western or eastern windows, but direct sunlight is harmful to it, as well as draughts. The most comfortable temperature for the growth of the plant is 18-25 ºC, during flowering – 16-14 ºC, and during rest – 14-12 ºC. Watering in summer should be abundant, in winter watering is reduced so that the soil is barely moist. When the Christmas poinsettia blooms, start spraying it with lukewarm, tempered water.


Feed your poinsettia twice a month from spring to fall with a complex mineral fertilizer. During the flowering period, you will need potassium fertilizer, although many flower growers are superstitious in this matter and prefer not to fertilize the plant during the flowering period.


Transplant poinsettia in the spring, in April or May, after the dormant period, when the awakened poinsettia has young leaves. The soil should be slightly acidic, consisting of leaf, clay-sod soil, peat and sand in a ratio of 2:3:1:1. Do not forget about the drainage layer. The pot should not be much larger than the previous one. To reduce the stress of transplanting the plant to a minimum, transplanting poinsettias is carried out by the method of transplanting.

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There are no special subtleties in how to trim poinsettia, there is no. It is cut twice: in early April, when it is supposed to rest, to a height of 15 cm from the soil level in the pot, and after transplanting, when the plant will begin to grow new shoots. This is done to form a beautiful bush and remove weak shoots, which are then used as cuttings for vegetative propagation.

Poinsettia spotted-5 Pictured: The mottled poinsettia is about to bloom

Propagating poinsettias

How to propagate poinsettias? Under natural conditions, poinsettia is propagated by seeds, but in home conditions to propagate poinsettia use a vegetative method of propagation by cuttings, which are cut in early summer. The length of the cuttings should be 7-10 cm, so that it had at least 3-6 good buds, the cut should go directly under the node. Cuttings drop the cut for a few minutes in warm water to get rid of the poisonous sap of the plant, then treated with a rooting agent, plant them in containers with moist substrate consisting of sand, dry manure and humus, and contain at 24-28 º C under the film in a bright place, but without strong sunlight, periodically ventilating and spraying.

When the cuttings take root, which will happen in about a month, the temperature regime can become a little looser, but it should not drop below 16 ºC. In the autumn young poinsettias are transplanted into pots with a diameter of 18-20 cm, but they can become beautiful flowering bushes only in a year.


Sometimes poinsettia suffers from such insects as thrips, scale, whitefly, mealybug and spider mite.

Mealybugs form a white, waxy substance, and aphids and whiteflies leave sticky spots on the leaves. They can be combatted with both folk methods and systemic insecticides.
Aphids and scales are destroyed by wiping the leaves of poinsettia weekly with a soap solution on both sides, followed by washing off the soap with a shower, worms are fought by treating the leaves of the plant with mineral oil. But sometimes this struggle still ends with a trip to the store for a pest repellent.

Poinsettia bush-6 Pictured: Beauty poinsettia
Poinsettia diseases are gray rot, fusarium and powdery mildew.
  • Gray rot occurs against a background of high humidity and looks like a gray mold on the shoots, inflorescences and stems, brown spots are formed on the leaves. To combat gray rot, use Fondazole, Skor or Cistotle.
  • Fusariosis turns the shoots brown, then almost black, they wither and die off.
  • Powdery mildew covers the leaves and flowers of the plant with a white coating, under which the plant gradually turns brown. Destroy these fungal diseases with fungicides such as Fitosporin-M, Topaz, the same Skor and Chistotle.

Why do poinsettia leaves turn yellow?

When the plant is kept in a cool room and at the same time regularly overwatering the soil, rotting of the roots occurs, which is accompanied by the yellowing of the leaves. This is only one cause of the yellowing of the leaves.

Another reason can be just low humidity, as a result of which the plant is affected by spider mite, and its activity leads to such a result as the yellowing of poinsettia leaves.

Light yellow poinsettia-7 Pictured: White poinsettia

Why do poinsettias have falling leaves

  • Leaf fall can be a consequence of the causes mentioned in the previous paragraph: overwatering the soil at low room temperature and too dry room air. That is, the leaves first turn yellow and then fall off.
  • Insufficient watering also causes the yellow leaves to drop.
  • When the Christmas holidays pass, poinsettias turn yellow and drop their leaves in preparation for the dormancy period.
  • Sometimes the fall of the leaves is caused by a sudden change in temperature or lack of light.

Why does it not flower?

Most likely because you missed something from the agronomic recommendations of experts. Read again carefully the section on poinsettia flowering, and perhaps you will discover the mistake yourself. The main thing the plant needs in order to bloom is the right light and temperature regime, with the observance of which poinsettia will bloom for sure.

Pink poinsettia-8 Pictured: Poinsettia growing at home

Poinsettia after flowering

The dormancy period in poinsettia comes in March-April, it lasts about six weeks. When the plant starts to lose its leaves, trim off its shoots to a height of 15cm from the ground, move the poinsettia to a dark, cool place and let it rest, only occasionally and very sparingly moistening the soil in the pot. In May your beauty will wake up and ask for your care and attention which she will thank you for with a splendid blossoming when winter comes.


Poinsettias have not bloomed for two years – what to do?

The reason for this problem can be a violation of the light regime: from the beginning of September the plant needs 14 hours a day in complete darkness, and during the day it should be exposed to the lightest window sill for a few hours. Complete darkening can be achieved by covering poinsettia with a cardboard box. As soon as the leaflets on the “Christmas star” begin to turn red as a result of these manipulations, stop making feedings and cover the plant.

There are other reasons why poinsettias may refuse to bloom: not enough frequent watering, draughts, dry indoor air or too big a pot. Poinsettias can refuse to bloom if they are not transplanted or trimmed in time. Transplant the “Christmas star” every year, and cut it twice a year: after flowering and after transplanting.

If all of the above conditions are met, the leaflets of the poinsettia are sure to turn red.

Why do poinsettias have shrinking leaves?

Poinsettias can react in this way to spraying the leaves with chemicals, as well as to drafts, sudden changes in temperature, subcooling, improper watering or to fertilizer applied in dry soil.

You need to remove the diseased leaves from the plant, and then carefully re-read the poinsettia conditions, care rules for it and try to understand what mistake you made. If the root system of the plant is not yet ruined, try to restore the poinsettia, but if you do not succeed, cut cuttings and grow a new plant from them.

Why did the poinsettia drop its leaves in November?

Most likely, poinsettia dropped leaves because the conditions of its maintenance were violated. From September onwards it needs to be kept out of the light for 14 hours a day by covering it with a cardboard box or something similar, and only once the leaflets start to turn red can you stop doing this.

Leaves can fall due to too dry air, abundant watering at low temperatures, dehydration, drafts and sudden changes in temperature.

How to save the plant? Cut off all stems to a height of 10 cm, move the flower to a cool place, drastically limit watering and stop fertilizing. In early May, transplant the poinsettia into a larger pot, return it to its usual location and gradually restore the watering regime.

If the poinsettia has a healthy root system these recommendations will help you, but if the leaves are falling off because the roots are dying, you are unlikely to be able to restore the plant.

Is poinsettia poisonous?

Poinsettia is a milkweed plant, so its milky sap, like the sap of all members of the genus, contains poisonous substances – euphorbic acid and cyanogenic compounds that can cause skin irritation and even burns, and in contact with the eyes can for a time deprive vision.

There was a case when after the Christmas holidays a group of people were brought to the hospital with digestive disorders: they ate a holiday salad, which the hostess had decorated with poinsettia leaves.

But if a person is aware of the poisonous content of poinsettia tissues, he is unlikely to chew its leaves. Poinsettia sap is most dangerous for small children, who take everything in their mouths, and for pets, especially cats and birds. So keep the “Christmas star” out of the reach of children and animals.

Does a poinsettia need to be transplanted after purchase?

Many people treat poinsettias as a disposable plant, but with the right care, it can delight you with blossoms for more than one year. This flower is on sale at the beginning of winter, just in time for Christmas, but if you transplant it right after purchase, it may start to leaf out and you won’t see any blooms.

Repotting a poinsettia after purchase is appropriate only in one case: when its roots are hanging out of the drainage holes. This means that the plant is too small a pot. However, you should be very careful when transplanting, otherwise the poinsettia will begin to lose its leaves along with its bright bracts. The flower should be transplanted into a container of a larger size together with all of the ground ball, trying not to damage any of the roots.

If you find no signs that the poinsettia roots are tight in the pot, it is better not to disturb the plant. Repotting will be done after the flowering is over.

Why do poinsettias have shallow and pale leaves?

Poinsettias need to be transplanted after each flowering, otherwise it starts to become emaciated in this way. Even the annually transplanted poinsettia gradually degenerates: it stops blooming and begins to lose its leaves. Therefore, florists recommend her in a year or two to cuttings and grow a new plant from cuttings.

Sometimes the cause of the appearance of pale and small leaves can be chlorosis – a deficit of iron or some other trace elements in the soil. Try changing the top layer of soil in the poinsettia pot and treating the flower along the leaves with a solution containing iron. It is also better to change the usual fertilizer to one that contains iron chelate.

It may well be that the pallor and crumbling of the leaves is caused by damage to the root system, too hard water or poor quality soil. Look for the cause by method of elimination, but if you do not find it, cut the plant.

How to resuscitate a withered poinsettia?

If a poinsettia has started to dry out its branches, you need to check the condition of its roots. If they are healthy, repot the plant in fresh soil and cut the dry branches back to living tissue and sprinkle the cuts with charcoal powder.

Keep the recovering plant in a cool room, in the penumbra. Do not water it often. As soon as new shoots start to appear on the poinsettia, you can return it under bright diffused light and gradually restore the usual regime of watering and feeding.

Never leave water leaking out in the poinsettia tray, or it will start having root problems again.

Why do poinsettias have yellowing and curling leaves?

This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, because the air in the room is too dry. Daily spraying the poinsettia with warm, tempered water will help to remedy the situation. In conditions of low humidity the soil in the pot dries out faster, so you need to check its condition every 3-4 days.

Yellowing and curling of the leaves can be due to poor lighting, and then the poinsettia gradually bare the lower part of the stems. To prevent this from happening, keep the pot with the plant under bright diffused light. In winter the poinsettia will be happy even with direct sunlight.

The air saturated with harmful substances can be the cause of leaf yellowing: poinsettias react morbidly to tobacco smoke and fumes from the gas stove. And the “Christmas star” itself emits ethylene, and if you keep the flower for a long time in a gift wrap made of foil or film, the leaves will start to turn yellow and fall off.

Poinsettias have frozen and dropped their leaves – what to do?

If the plant has frozen, you can not immediately bring it into a warm room. Put it in a cool room and spray the leaves with a solution of Epin. Do not water or feed the plant. If the root system is intact, the poinsettia will revive and new sprouts will appear. But if the roots are dead, it can no longer be saved.

Why do poinsettias not have red leaflets?

It happens for many reasons, but the most common is improper maintenance of the flower in the fall. Since September, poinsettias need to be kept in complete darkness for 14 hours a day for the plant to form flower buds. Cover the plant in the evening with a cardboard box or dark bag, and remove the cover in the morning so that the poinsettia gets a portion of daylight. And don’t forget to apply nutrients. Keep the plant in such conditions for about 10 weeks.

As soon as the leaflets start to turn red stop feeding and put the plant back in its usual conditions: bright diffused light and a temperature of at least 20 ⁰C.

How to grow poinsettias from seed?

At home, poinsettias are propagated by cuttings, because it is very difficult to obtain the seeds of the plant. But even if you manage to collect seeds, a poisonous wild bush will grow from them, not a “Christmas star”, because with seed propagation the plant loses the decorative qualities grafted to it.

There is no point in wasting time and effort on breeding experiments, especially since it is not at all difficult to grow poinsettias from cuttings. After pruning the plant, a lot of plant material remains, which is easy enough to root.

Spider web on poinsettias – what is it?

If you find thin spider webs on poinsettias, and the leaves began to turn yellow and fall off, it means that the plant has been attacked by spider mites. Look at the leaves and stems carefully and remove severely infested areas, wipe the stems and leaves with a soapy solution and wash the flower under a warm shower. Then treat the poinsettia with an acaricide – Actara, Actellic, Vermite, Sunmite or another preparation of similar action. Remember that mites are spiders, not insects and an insecticide is unlikely to work on them.


  1. Read about the topic on Wikipedia
  2. Features and other plants of the Molochaceae family
  3. All Species List at The Plant List
  4. More information at World Flora Online