How to Turn Poinsettia Plants Red

I just received a poinsettia, if you can send me more information on how to turn a Poinsettia Plant red again the following year. I would greatly appreciate the information. Thank you hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Diane

Hi Diane,

Here are some care tips on how to get your poinsettia to turn red again next year.

Red Poinsettias
Red Poinsettias


Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers so their bracts (colorful leaves that we call flowers) may last  several months with the proper care. Provide bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. and be very careful not to over water!

During this time, leaves (side shoots) develop below the bracts. To insure a pretty, well-shaped plant for next year, cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems, new growth will develop from buds located in the leaf axils along these stems. Cut your poinsettia back in February or early March to help the buds grow and develop better. The poinsettia is dormant at this point and needs very little water.  Keep your Poinsettia in a sunny area where the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees.


Sometime between July and August, prune all the stems to about 4-6 inches above the soil line; try to leave one to three leaves on each stem. Fertilize every two weeks with a liquid, water-soluble houseplant fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small..


In order for the poinsettia bracts (leaves) to turn red again, the plant must be kept in complete darkness for 12-15 hours from the end of September until color shows in the bracts in early to mid-December. You may have to put the plant in a closet or cover it with a card board box, because the slightest light may prevent the bracts from developing any color. The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 degrees may delay or prevent the plant from turning red.

Hopefully you’ll have a beautiful plant for Christmas.