QUESTION: How do you take care of a potted poinsettia indoors? Every year my blooms fall off and they look terrible after just a few weeks. – Michelle R
ANSWER: Don’t feel too bad. Poinsettias are notoriously hard to care for as a houseplant. But there are plenty of things you can do to keep it looking healthy for the duration of the holiday season.
Choose a location for your poinsettia where it will not come into contact with drafts or blasts of heated air (from your home’s climate control system or a space heater, for example). The best indoor spot for a poinsettia is in a west-facing or south-facing window. Your poinsettia should receive at least six hours of light each day, whether it receives sunlight or artificial light.
Remove the foil wrapper that many poinsettias come with, or at least poke holes in the foil wrapper to allow excess moisture to drain out of the plant’s container. Place the poinsettia’s container on a tray or saucer to catch any moisture that drips from the drainage holes.
Poinsettias are most comfortable between 65 and 75 degrees (18.33 to 23.89 degrees Celsius). If temperatures fall below this range, the plant may drop its foliage or start to suffer from cold stress. Cold damage occurs when poinsettias are exposed to temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.22 degrees Celsius) or below. Temperatures higher than the ideal range can result in a shorter lifespan for your poinsettia.
If you want your holiday guests to be greeted with poinsettias when they approach your front door, wait until just before your company will arrive to place the poinsettias outdoors. The temperature in winter is much too cold for poinsettias to be comfortable in most of the world. Remember to bring the poinsettias back indoors as soon as you can once they’ve served their purpose. Your poinsettias should never remain outdoors overnight.
Check the moisture level of the soil where your poinsettia is growing each day. Once the top inch of the soil is dry, it’s time to provide the plant with some more water. Keep watering the plant until the moisture drips from the drainage holes in the bottom of its container. Once the excess moisture has finished draining from the soil, pour out the water that is standing in the tray or saucer beneath the container.