O ne of the most popular holiday plants is the vibrant vermilion poinsettia.

Poinsettias contribute over $250 million to the U.S. economy at the retail level, according to the University of Illinois Extension. But did you know you can enjoy it indoors now as part of holiday decor and then plant in the garden for beautiful blooming next year?

The colorful and showy “flower” is actually a cluster of modified leaves called bracts. The true flowers are small and clustered in the centers of the bracts.

Poinsettias are tropical plants and prefer a temperature range of 65°F (night) and 75-80°F (day). Inside your home, keep them in bright light away from drying or chilly drafts. They will tolerate full sun on a porch or patio but must be protected from frost or freezing temperatures. Water your poinsettia only when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Remove any excess water from the saucer or decorative pot sleeve because poinsettias don’t tolerate soggy soil. Do not apply fertilizer.

Poinsettias as Outdoor Plants

The best potted plants for establishing in the landscape are ones that have been in good light while indoors and have remained green and healthy. Red varieties usually establish better than other colors. Choose a sunny spot that will not receive any artificial light at night. Plant your potted poinsettia(s) as soon as danger of frost is past. Cut off the fading bracts, leaving 4–6 inches of the stem on each branch. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer. Poinsettias prefer moist, well drained soils with a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Place the plant in the soil at the same depth it was growing in the container. Gently firm the soil around the plant and water well. Keep the plant mulched and well watered until established. Fertilize monthly, from March to October. Prune in early spring when the floral display is over and the danger of frost has passed. Cut back to within 12 to 18 inches of the ground or to living tissue if the plant was damaged by cold. Poinsettias may become “leggy” and unattractive if not pruned regularly during the growing season. Cut back once a month, if needed, leaving four leaves on each shoot. Discontinue pruning after September 10. Flower buds will begin to develop in October. Delay or disruption of flowering will occur if fall temperatures are too warm or too cold or if the required dark period is interrupted.

Information provided by the University of Florida – IFAS Extension