What Do I Do With My Poinsettia Now?
By Rob Sproule
Christmas has come and gone. The toys are put away, the tree has been dragged to the curb, and you’ve been eying the poinsettia on the counter wondering what to do now.
There are 2 types of poinsettia owners. The first type buys it as a Christmas ornament, enjoys it, and discards it (count me in on that, but I’m surrounded by them 6 months a year at the greenhouse so I’m done by Christmas). The second is able to put the “Christmas” aside and adopts it as a houseplant to coddle as they do their others.
While your poinsettia probably doesn’t look as fresh as it did Christmas Eve, it’s not programmed to die after New Years. Like the other plants in your home, it’s a tropical plant that will continue to grow and thrive for as long as you care for it.
Care after Christmas:
The colour on a poinsettia aren’t its blooms. They’re called bracts, meant to lure pollinators into the central flowers. The actual blooms appear as tiny yellow tips in the center. By the time New Years rolls around, the tips will have turned black and the blooms spent.
Give it a January shot of all purpose houseplant fertilizer. That will inject it with fresh nutrients, as it hasn’t been fertilized in a while (growers get them in the home stretch in December).
Keep it in a sunny window, away from cold and hot (furnace) drafts. It will thrive in room temperature (18-21 degrees). Keep it on the dry side, not watering until the soil is dry to the first knuckle.
Overwatering is going to be your worst enemy. It’s a Mexican plant and needs periods of mild drought or its roots will rot. Sickly, yellowing leaves indicate too much water.
A well grown poinsettia will hold its colour for weeks or even months after Christmas. While not the most attractive houseplant in the world, it will add some life to the countertop.
By early Spring the Christmas colour will be long spent and your poinsettia will be looking long in the tooth. If you’ve kept it this long, you’re probably in for the long haul and wanting to have a go at blooming it out for next Christmas.
Once it gets leggy, cut it back to 5″ above soil level. Transplant it into one pot size larger if it’s getting root bound. Start fertilizing it every couple weeks in the spring with your all-purpose houseplant blend. You’ll start getting ample green growth.
With the hot spring sun, don’t put it in a big south or west window right away. It will want full sun eventually, but acclimatize it to avoid burning the leaves.
At some point it becomes fish-or-cut-bait to try to rebloom it or not. Timing it for the following Christmas gets complicated.
If you don’t choose to rebloom it, the foliage is still somewhat attractive, and eventually you might even start thinking of it as an everyday plant and not a Christmas one.