Poinsettia Care in the Home or Office

First If your plants have clear plastic sleeves pulled up over them, pull them down.

Location
Poinsettias prefer a spot with some direct sunlight and will look best the longest if they
are in a sunny window. They will also do OK in the middle of the room away from
windows. Avoid really dark corners if you can.

Avoid placing plants near heaters or cold air vents. If that nice sunny window is right over
a heater, do not use it. Poinsettias are comfortable between 55 degrees and 70 degrees, our standard home conditions.

Water
This is the most important part of poinsettia care. They like to be lightly and evenly moist. They are damaged a bit if they dry out to the point of wilting. The roots will rot if they are
wet too much of the time. Moderation is the way to go. If your plant feels heavy when you pick it up and the soil looks dark and moist on top, it does not need water. If it is light when you lift it and the soil looks light and dry on top, it needs water. If it is in between those two extremes wait and check it again the next day. Just do not let it dry to the point of wilting.

If you water a poinsettia with the pot wrapping on or with a saucer under it, go back after a
few minutes and empty out the water that has drained off. This helps prevent root rot problems.

I like to take my poinsettias to the sink, remove any wrappings, water them thoroughly and leave them to drain a few minutes in the sink. Then I put the dry wrappings back on and carry them back to their places. This gives the plants a thorough watering and protects furniture and floors from water marks.

Fertilizer
Poinsettias, unlike most plants, do not want any fertilizer while they are blooming.

Are they poisonous?
The sticky juice is irritating to the eyes, mouth and stomach lining. Be careful not to get the white sap in your eyes. The worst report I have heard about eating poinsettia is of a cat who threw up after eating poinsettia leaves. The cat was fine afterwards. They taste awful and a child is unlikely to take more than a curious nibble before looking for something more pleasant to put in his or her mouth, like dirt clods or slugs. Mistletoe is the holiday plant that is very poisonous and I suspect people have confused the two on their toxicity levels.
So don’t worry, enjoy your poinsettias and enjoy the holidays.

Ellen Egan
Egan Gardens