Don’t make these mistakes if you want to keep your Poinsettia alive past Christmas…

Have you been gifted a Poinsettia for Christmas? Here’s how to care for it past the festive season.

Poinsettias are the epitome of Christmas cheer, bringing a splash of vibrant red to our homes during the festive season. But unfortunately, these festive houseplants can be a bit temperamental, often succumbing to neglect and perishing before the New Year rings in.

If you never manage to keep your Poinsettia alive past Christmas or have received one as a gift and aren’t sure how to care for it, we’re here to help. Don’t make these mistakes and you’ll be able to enjoy their flowers for months to come.

keep poinsettias aliveCredit: Shutterstock / PinkCoffee Studio
Look after your Poinsettia correctly and it can last until next Christmas

1. Putting it somewhere dark and draughty

Choose somewhere bright

Clare Bishop, senior houseplant buyer for Dobbies suggests placing your Poinsettia somewhere where it can get a lot of light, ideally at least six house of indirect sunlight a day.

“You should avoid direct sunlight as this could scorch the plant’s leaves,” she says.

“Being a tropical plant, Poinsettias also like warmth so you should keep them away from windows and other draughty spots as this could cause the plant’s flowers to drop.”

2. Overwatering it

They hate waterlogged soil

When watering your Poinsettia, the frequency you do it really depends on how warm your home is. You’ll know if it needs a drink if the soil is dry to the touch.

“Poinsettias won’t thank you for waterlogged soil, so make sure they are planted in a pot with good drainage,” advises Bishop.

She continues: “They also like a humid environment so a Poinsettia’s leaves will benefit from regular misting, which should prevent them from drying out when you have your heating on in winter.”

Probably around the end of January, your Poinsettia will start to lose its leaves. It’s not dying, this is just its dormant period. During this time, you can reduce the frequency with which you water the plant, allowing it to dry out a little.

3. Not pruning it

It needs a little help

Once it comes out of its dormant period, around springtime, it’s time to give your Poinsettia a little freshen up.

“If you are feeding your Poinsettia and it is growing, when it comes to spring, you should cut back your plant’s stems by a third, to around six inches,” advises Bishop. “You should also remove the plant’s foliage to allow room for new growth.”

She says it’s also prudent to prune the plant again in late summer so you can control how big it gets in the cooler months.

Want to make your Poinsettia bloom for next Christmas?

You’ll need to mimic its natural growing season, which coincides with the shortening days of December and January.  This involves artificially curtailing the amount of daylight it receives, starting from late September.

Aim for no more than 12 hours of daylight per day, and once that quota is met, cover or place your Poinsettia in a dark room to prevent it from absorbing any more ambient light.

This simulated short-day treatment should last for 8-10 weeks to ensure your Poinsettia is in prime bloom for the festive season.

4. Not feeding it

This plant doesn’t need to go on a diet

While you may have overindulged over Christmas and be cutting back a little, the same can’t be said for your Poinsettia. To show it proper care, it needs to be fed monthly to ensure it grows nice and strong.

“Consider using a liquid plant food to fertilise your Poinsettia throughout the spring and summer months to allow it to bloom again next Christmas,” says Bishop.

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5. Keeping it in the same pot

Help it spread its roots

As your Poinsettia grows, it will probably need a new pot.

“Make sure you use fresh potting mix with good drainage and choose a pot that’s big enough for the plant’s roots to grow,” suggests Bishop.

The Royal Horticultural Society suggests repotting them in early May three parts John Innes No 3 mixed with one part grit to help care for them over the warmer months.

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Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Published:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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