Question: How long do poinsettias last? The plant I brought home early in December still looks nice, and I hate to throw it out. Will it keep growing?
The length of a poinsettia’s life generally depends on how much care you’re willing to give it. Some people bring it home to display for a few days, and without any attention at all it dries out and begins to drop its leaves within a couple of weeks.
If yours is still doing well, you’ve given it at least the minimum amount of TLC: indirect light in a room that’s not too warm, enough water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If you continue to care for it, the plant should last well beyond the holidays. To keep it looking its best, make sure the poinsettia is in a place that’s away from cold drafts or heating vents.
Poinsettia is a tropical plant, native to Mexico. If you manage to keep it until spring, you can let it grow outdoors, though it won’t have its Christmas-hued leaves. (What we think of as the flowers are technically bracts, or modified leaves. The tiny yellow flowers are clustered in the centers of the bracts.) As spring approaches, cut the plant back to about eight inches tall and fertilize with an all-purpose plant food, and after the danger of frost is past, re-pot the poinsettia outdoors, or plant it in the ground where it will grow into an interesting green plant that will last in the garden until frost kills it.
Some ambitious gardeners are able to “re-bloom” a poinsettia plant, but it takes patience and impeccable timing to provide the right conditions of light and dark needed to produce the colorful bracts.
If you’re looking for more information, the University of Illinois provides its Poinsettia Pages, an info-filled site with all you need to know about this holiday tradition.