Do You Know How to Pick the Perfect Poinsettia?

by | Dec 4, 2019 | 2 comments

When you are looking at a sea of colorful poinsettias, how do you know which one is the best one? How do you pick the perfect poinsettia?

Pick the perfect poinsettia color

First of all, choose the color you like. There are red, pink, white, and painted ones in a myriad of colors.

Look at the plant

So other than color, what else are you looking for? First of all, look at the plant. Does it look good? Are the tips of the bracts brown? Are there wilted leaves or broken branches? If so, keep looking.

Check under the poinsettia pot cover

Next check the pot cover. Is it full of water? If it is, keep moving.

If there is water in the cover, you have no idea how long it has been standing in water. Rotten roots are the result.

At the very least, check the leaves hidden by the top of the cover. If allowed to dry out, it may have some crispy leaves. That would indicate a plant that hasn’t been well cared for. Again, keep looking.

Check the true flowers

The colored parts of the poinsettia are bracts, or modified leaves. The true flowers are the small green or yellow parts in the middle of the bracts.

Check these because if closed and green then the plant will last longer.

Pollen on poinsettia
The pollen sacs are still tight with no yellow showing

Flower pollen

The pollen sacs in the middle of the white poinsettia below, are much further along than the one above. So, the poinsettia above will last longer than the one below.

Now, I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Who cares? They are trash after the holidays anyway, right?”

The fact is, the holiday season seems to get pushed earlier every year. Poinsettias are being purchased earlier.

We want them to last until the holidays are over, so we have to buy them as “fresh” as we can. Buying them with lots of pollen showing is like buying a piece of fruit that is too ripe.

Pollen showing in white poinsettia
White poinsettia pollen
pollen in this closer picture
Lots of pollen showing on this white poinsettia along with a female flower
Poinsettia pollen
Poinsettia pollen sacs turning yellow

How long have they been sleeved

Another factor to take into account is the amount of time the poinsettia has been in a sleeve. Shipped poinsettias are covered in plastic or paper sleeves to protect them.

They should be unwrapped as soon as they arrive at the garden center. Leaving them sleeved can damage the foliage and accelerate the aging process.

Poinsettia 'Tapestry"
Poinsettia ‘Tapestry’, a variegated form
Pink and 'Tapestry' poinsettias
Pink poinsettia and ‘Tapestry’

They like it toasty warm

The last thing to worry about is temperatures when transporting your poinsettia. It is a tropical plant from Mexico and does not appreciate temperatures below 50 degrees.

A PAPER sleeve should completely cover the plant. This, of course, is imperative if it is below 50. Where I live, it most likely is going to be below 50 when it is poinsettia buying time.

Speckled poinsettia
Speckled poinsettia

Poinsettia torture witnessed by me

I was at a large warehouse store today and saw poinsettias leaving the store in plastic sleeves. They didn’t cover the entire plant and it was well below 40 degrees.

How do you think those poinsettias will look tomorrow? I would think a little worse for the wear.

They may have brown edges or even completely wilted leaves. They WERE beautiful poinsettias.

Take your plant in its paper sleeve to a warm car and go straight home. Running 10 other errands and leaving it in a freezing car will not bode well for your plant.

Marbled poinsettia
Marbled poinsettias

Poinsettia Recap

So to recap- check inside the pot cover, observe the color of the pollen sacs, and cover your plant when bringing it home.

Read here for information about caring for your poinsettia once you get it home. Be a smart shopper and you will be able to enjoy your poinsettia long after the season is over.

Do you keep your poinsettias or throw them out? Tell me in the comments.

Have a great week, plant friends!


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  1. Cathy Streett

    Thank you for the tips. I usually go to the greenhouse at Cantigny Park each Nov and buy a poinsettia. They are very well cared for – but I’ll look for the things you pointed out and remember to keep it warm on the way home.

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Sound good! Keep it warm and evenly moist and all should be good.


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