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by Treon
(Arlington, TX, United States)


I got a poinsettia for Christmas, and it looks like it is dying. However, everyone I’ve asked about it has told me it’s just going through a drying period, and I should keep in a closed area until late spring. I don’t know whether to do what they’ve told me to or just give up on the whole thing. Can you help me?

Hi Treon,
Poinsettia are Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means beautiful.

The red parts are not actually a flower, they are known as ‘bracts’ which typically start to change color in relation to the light levels in their native Mexico.

In northern climates, they are artificially forced into ‘bloom’, specially timing them for an event, such as Christmas. I think this is what your suggestion above refers to – but that is not going to help now, it’s only for before they start to color up.

As a plant that originates in a warm climate, the worst thing you can do is expose it to cold. That appears to be what has happened to your plant.

In transit, when they are shipped from their lovely warm greenhouse, sometimes in unpacking the truck to take the plants into the store where they will be sold they are exposed to cold temperatures. It doesn’t even need to be freezing, just much cooler than what they’re used to.

There are ways to keep your plant alive and try and re-bloom it next year, but it’s a long and involved process.

May I politely suggest that you put this one in the garbage and buy a new one? Also, please keep in mind that this genus has caustic sap, and could cause dermatitis, so use caution in handling.

Best of luck,