I get quite a few questions every year about poinsettia flowers – “how to get them to rebloom and what to do when the leaves wilt or fall off?” kinds of concerns.
This page is a listing of general questions that fall outside of problems and general care. I hope it helps in some way.
Poinsettias as Cut Flowers
Do poinsettias make good (or decent) cut flower arrangements? Can you clip the stems and place in water in a vase?
Doug says the poinsettia is a member of the Euphorbia family and this family must be treated somewhat differently than other cut flowers.
They have a sticky, milky “sap” inside the stem and this must be stopped from leaking if you want to have them last as cuts.
So the “trick” is to cut the stem – and then *immediately* sear the end of the cut with a flame (have a candle going) to dry out and stop the sap flow.
You’ll then get a few days from each branch in a vase of water before they start to wilt.
They’re not the greatest of cut flowers but this is how you get them to behave (as best they will) in a vase.
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A branch broke off – can I root it?
Doug says that anything is possible but this isn’t likely going to work. Poinsettia propagation normally uses tip cuttings – and not big mature branches. And it can be quite tricky to get this euphorbia shrub to root unless it’s quite warm and the leaves are handled in a way that stops water evaporation (cut off about 2/3 of each leaf)
But having said that – stranger things have happened in our gardening world. So while it will likely die – there’s no harm in trying.
Can Poinsettias ever be planted outside? Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall? Or even just in their pots outside?
Doug says that the poinsettia is a Mexican plant. So you can put it outside and grow it as a shrub if you have a climate like Mexico.
Otherwise, yes you can put it outside in the ground if you dig it up in the fall and repot it or simply grow it outdoors in a pot.
I have an old poinsettia plant, about 3years old. My problem is with the white flies. How do I get rid of them?
Doug says that you spray them with insecticidal soap regularly. This plant attracts whitefly like bees go for honey.
You can’t ever stop – generally every 5-7 days but DO NOT spray the coloured bracts with soap – that will turn them some pretty interesting colors and burn them.
Read the label on the insecticidal soap and good luck.
Repotting Poinsettia after purchase
I recently purchased a Poinsettia. Is it o.k. to re-pot it into a larger pot?
Doug says it depends on how careful you are. If you root disturb it at all, it will likely go into shock, drop its leaves and be done for the season.
Let me suggest you insert it into a larger decorative pot and fill the empty space between the original pot and the new pot with some bark chips or some other decorative material to keep the plant upright.
You can then decorate the surface of the pot with chips or Christmas kinds of ornaments without having to stress the plant.
Good luck. (If it were mine, I probably wouldn’t do it but you *can* do it)
Watering poinsettia with soda or tea
is it a good idea to add tea or fizzy drinks to the water when watering a poinsettia?
Doug says he is constantly amazed at the things gardeners will do or be told to do. I wouldn’t even want to begin to guess where this came from so let me simply say “no, it is not good gardening to water with fizzy drinks or tea”.
Transferring poinsettias outdoors
I heard that poinsettias can be moved/planted outdoors. Is that true? If it is, what a shame that we’ve thrown them out when they seemed to “die” indoors!
Doug says that yes indeed, you can grow them outdoors. As long as you live in an area that doesn’t get frost.
This is a Mexican shrub – not at all hardy and a touch of frost is going to do some really ugly things to it.
I note that growing them outdoors is a great thing to do (potted) because when you bring them back indoors in the fall, that reduction in light levels is the first step on initiating new flower/bract formation. But click here for instructions on getting them to rebloom.
I am going to repot a very sick poinsettia what sort of soil type do I use?
Doug says a general soilless potting soil such as Pro-mix works well. That’s what commercial growers mostly use. Regular garden soil will collapse in the pot and turn to concrete so avoid real soil.
But generally, when a poinsettia is “sick” it is dying. This silly plant has two health states – growing well and dead.
Temperature of water
Does it matter the temperature of the water when you water the plant?
Doug says not really. I wouldn’t make it ice-cold but lukewarm is just fine. Remember it’s a tropical shrub so a bit warmer is better but not critical.
Can poinsettas come back to life
I bought a poinsetta 1yr ago. I was able to keep it alive and thriving very well till the other day i went to water it and noticed ALL the leaves were dying. What can I do if I can at all do to bring my plant back to life?
Doug says the odds of a poinsettia “coming back to life” depend very much on how it’s being treated. 95% of the time, when it starts wilting and dropping leaves, it’s in its death throes and can’t be brought back.
If you eliminate whatever caused the stress (stress leading to this wilting and leaf drop) soon enough, keep it warm then it “may” throw out new shoots if it was really healthy before and has a good store of energy.
So – you’ve read the how-to grow poinsettia articles – follow those directions.
It may come back and it may not. No guarantees with this plant.
My plant of many years has recently developed a sticky substance which covers not only leaves but stems. This even drips onto the floor. The appearance of seed like pods seem to be contained within this sap. At the moment it has lost many leaves and those remaining are at the ends of the stems. I have never pruned it.
Doug says you likely have an insect infestation – probably spider mite or aphids. Get out the insecticidal soap and start spraying tops and bottoms of leaves every 5-7 days. The plant may recover or it may not. Poinsettia are famous for getting “sick” and simply refusing to recover once they start dropping leaves.