Why poinsettia care in July? I thought I’d join the “Christmas in July” movement. (My mom is watching Christmas movies every day on the Hallmark channel.) This last week, I attended a few garden walks (I write articles about exceptional gardens for a local magazine) and one homeowner had two poinsettias on their patio and I wanted to show you how gorgeous they are. These plants aren’t just for the holidays.

Poinsettia outside

Poinsettia 7 months after Christmas

Good poinsettia care makes for a great houseplant

This poinsettia is looking amazing seven months after the holidays. So how does it look this good? If a poinsettia is well cared for during and after the holidays, it can remain beautiful. If you didn’t know, the Latin name Euphorbia  pulcherrima means the most beautiful euphorbia. The common name poinsettia comes from the man who discovered it, Joel Poinsett. I am not going to tell you how to get it to turn color again, because I’ve tried it and it never looks as good as the ones coming from the stores in December. They are quite inexpensive, so I buy new ones for the holidays. But, if you want to try, here is a detailed calendar from the University of Vermont extension that may help. I just want to show you what gorgeous houseplants these plants can be even if they never color up again. Read about their flowers here.

Poinsettia outside

A gorgeous houseplant

They can be long-lived houseplants

The plant below is over 6 years old. I saw this one last year on a garden walk and the homeowner told me she keeps it in her basement and rolls it out onto the covered patio for the summer. She has even underplanted it with oxalis. Isn’t it amazing?! That is either a 14 or 17″ pot!

five year old poinsettia

It is on wheels so it can be wheeled into the house

up close poinsettia

Poinsettia foliage close up

Oxalis underplanted in poinsettia

Oxalis as an underplanting in the poinsettia pot

Buying your poinsettia

So how do you keep it looking this good? The first key to success is to buy a nice looking plant that isn’t under distress.  Always make sure to check  what’s going on under the cover.  Second, when you bring the plant home from the store, it should be protected from the elements. It is usually cold when you are buying your plant and taking it out to your car in the cold can be a problem. Take it to a warm car if possible, but at the very least it must be wrapped, preferably in paper, not plastic.

Care at home

Make sure it isn’t placed near a heat vent or fireplace when you display it. I suggest watering your plant by removing it rom the sleeve, water it,  let it drain, and then return it to the sleeve so it isn’t standing in water. Poinsettias do not want to dry out, yet never want to stand in water. After the holidays your plant may lose its bottom leaves and look a bit ragged. At that time, you can cut them back to about 6″ tall and they will flush back out full and lush with new growth. At that time, treat them like your other houseplants, fertilizing on a regular basis throughout the summer, placing it in a bright spot.

A unique houseplant

Your poinsettia will become a conversation starter as most people will do a double-take when they see it. “Is that a poinsettia?” Why yes it is. Just look at those red petioles and oak leaf shaped leaves. Really people, the poinsettia is a beautiful houseplant, whether it ever “blooms” again or not.

So tell me what you think. How do you care for your poinsettia? Do you keep it? Do you throw it out the day after Christmas? Have you tried to get it to turn color again? Have you been successful? Let me know in the comments.

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