Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Required: Green thumbs and a dose of persistence

We love the bright blooms of poinsettias. Every winter, they add festive cheer to holiday decorating inside and out. If there’s an empty space on the porch, on the doorsteps, or anywhere in between, you can be sure that we’re going to fill it with a poinsettia pot. We’ve been thinking, though—why buy new plants every year? Why not tend our poinsettias so that they’ll bloom again next year? Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to festive, re-blooming bliss.

As you tend the poinsettia throughout the year, you’ll notice that the care breaks down into two general areas—basic care from winter to summer and increasingly more time-intensive care during the fall months.

Basic Care (January-September)

Houseplant Status
After Christmas, keep your poinsettia indoors and in a spot where it receives bright light, watering it regularly in a pot with good drainage to keep the soil moist. 

Spring Pruning
When spring arrives, prune the flowering stems back 4 to 6 inches. This should promote new growth. In May, repot the poinsettia into a larger vessel, and place the plant in a sunny window. Water it when the soil becomes dry.

Outdoor Spell
When June arrives and the possibility of frost is past, it’s time to move the poinsettia outside. Place it in a shady spot and both water and fertilize it regularly.

Indoor Move
When evening temperatures begin to drop in August or September, move the plant indoors and keep the soil moist.

Intensive Care (September-December)

Evening Dark
This is the time-consuming part. In fall, poinsettias require short days of light and long nights (we’re talking 12 to 14 hours) of total darkness. Without these lengths of evening darkness, poinsettias will not flower. From September to December, place your poinsettia pot in a completely dark location, or cover it completely and opaquely, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. every evening, ensuring that it is not disturbed by even the smallest gleam of light during that time. Each morning, you’ll need to place it in a sunny spot for necessary light during the day. (You may want to set a twice-daily alert to remind yourself to move the plant both morning and evening.)

Time intensive? Yes. Worth it? Also yes. After this year of careful tending and one season of long, dark nights, your poinsettia should bloom again—just in time for the holidays.

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Will you keep your poinsettias all year long, or will you buy new ones when the holiday season arrives again? Let us know your tips and tricks for getting these pretty plants to bloom year after year.