A Shopper's Guide to Buying Perfect Poinsettias

A Shopper's Guide to Buying Perfect Poinsettias

Love poinsettias? Use our tips to pick poinsettias that will last. By Justin Hancock
By Justin Hancock

Poinsettias evoke the holidays like few other plants. Loaded with seasonal color, and available at virtually every garden center and florist, poinsettias are an easy way to decorate your home with a little holiday spirit. Get the most bang for your buck when shopping for poinsettias by using our handy tips.

PoinsettiaMoisture Matters

First off, check the soil moisture of the poinsettias you're looking at purchasing. They shouldn't be dry enough that they're wilting (while the plants bounce back from being wilted, they don't always look as good), but also not in soupy, saturated potting soil. If you don't want to stick your finger in the soil, pick up a few different pots: The lighter they are, the drier, and the heavier they are, the wetter. Avoid plants that seem overly light or heavy. 

At home, water your poinsettia enough to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Again, your plants will look best if you don't let them wilt. 

Find a Fresh One

Did you know there's an easy way to tell how far long a poinsettia is in its display cycle? Just look at the flowers -- and I'm not talking about the showy red, pink, or white leaf-like bracts. A poinsettia's actual flowers are small, yellow, and appear in the center of the bracts. The freshest poinsettias won't be blooming yet; instead, the flowers will be rounded green buds. If the yellow flowers look like they're producing powdery yellow pollen -- or have started to turn brown, the plant is already past its prime. 

Take Their Temperature

Temperatures play an important role in your poinsettia's display. They'll last longest if temperatures are between 55 and 65F at night and 65 and 75F during the day. Temperatures over 75F can cause them to mature too quickly, and temperatures below 50F can cause cold damage.

If you live in a cold-winter climate, be sure the staff at your garden center wraps your poinsettia in plastic before you take it outside. This protects the poinsettia from the cold. If temperatures are below freezing, it's best to go right home with your poinsettia rather than leaving it in the car while you run other errands. 

Note: If poinsettias experience big temperature swings where they go from hot to cold to hot again, the plants may drop their leaves or colorful bracts. 

Look at the Leaves

Most healthy poinsettias have dark green leaves with even coloration. Poinsettias whose leaves are yellowing, have brown tips, or brown edges are often stressed and won't last as long when you bring them home. 

Let Them Breathe

Retailers sometimes pack poinsettias and other plants tightly together on shelves to make displays more colorful. If you have a choice, shop displays where there's more space between the plants. The better the airflow around a poinsettia, the longer it typically will last. 

Be Realistic

While poinsettias are living plants, even the most well-cared-for plants will start to lose their color after a month or two. Poinsettias are beautiful holiday decor and aren't usually considered to be long-lived houseplants. 

Did you know poinsettias come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes? Find the perfect poinsettia for your decor!

Poinsettia Questions?

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