Poinsettia, Flor de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve Flower)

Euphorbia pulcherrima

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: pulcherrima (pul-KAIR-ih-muh) (Info)
Synonym:Poinsettia pulcherrima
View this plant in a garden


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

This plant is suitable for growing indoors


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:




Scarlet (Dark Red)

White/Near White


Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Late Fall/Early Winter

Mid Winter


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Jones, Alabama

Berkeley, California

Brea, California

Encino, California

Escondido, California

Hayward, California

Laguna Hills, California

Lompoc, California

Oak View, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

Simi Valley, California

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Bartow, Florida

Bradenton, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Dunedin, Florida

Englewood, Florida

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Largo, Florida

Miami, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Port Orange, Florida

Tampa, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Williston, Florida

Roswell, Georgia

Honomu, Hawaii

Biloxi, Mississippi

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Bluffton, South Carolina

Brownsville, Texas

Edinburg, Texas

Falcon Heights, Texas

Houston, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Mcallen, Texas (2 reports)

Mission, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Edmonds, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 16, 2013, hipgranny63 from Edmonds, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is my second Christmas with my poinsettia, which was originally a gift, set in an arrangement with a small conifer and another plant. After Christmas last year, I kept it in a northern window, but it outgrew its container, becoming a lush dark green, so I transplanted it into a larger container. As it's very fragile, some of the branches broke off during the transition, but it bounced back. It's now in a west window, about two feet tall and the brackets are blooming very well. Hopefully, it will continue to flourish as it makes an attractive, green houseplant during the rest of the year.


On Dec 16, 2013, gregokla from Hulbert, OK wrote:

As these beauties begin flowering, root rot can cause sudden death. It is very difficult to prevent this without drenching them, preventatively, with costly fungicides which are often labeled as restricted chemicals.

Keeping these spurges evenly moist during flowering can help, but this doesn't always work. Some varieties are more susceptible than others.

My advice is to enjoy poinsettias during the holidays, then toss them after the flowers are shot.


On Mar 6, 2009, jalokia from Colorado Springs, CO wrote:

this plant can grow in the cold climate of colorado springs but must be sheltered in a house before the cold days in fall return.
I dont know why people throw hundreds of these away a year. with a little care and attention it can be a long lived perennial and can happily live in a twelve gollon bucket or or bag for quite awhile

this marvelous plant is already coming out of dormancy after a good months rest


On Aug 5, 2008, imnotagardener from Gaylordsville, CT wrote:

Hello - I was given a poinsettia as a gift between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2007. I've never purchased a plant before and never strived to take care of one. It was my understanding that poinsettias normally "bloom" with red leaves during and around Christmas time and die shortly thereafter. It's now August 5th 2008 and my poinsettia is still around and kicking (which I now understand from reading this site isn't abnormal) however it still has many red leaves. I'd say at least 80% of the leaves or "bracts" are still a vibrant red and the green leaves seem very healthy. Very few leaves/bracts have shriveled and fallen off over the past 9 months or so and there is new growth near the soil line. Is this normal?


On Jun 16, 2008, goofybulb from Richland, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I've had one potted inside and kept as a houseplant. I managed to keep it for about one year and a half, than it "melted" away.
The second one, however, I kept outside at all times. It thrived, and now it's a lovely 3 year old bush. Though I didn't manage to make her develop red bracts or flowers, it is a lovely plant to have, the green leaves are beautiful.
It doesn't like wet feet, but do not let the soil dry out completely either. My plant is in full sun from late morning till early afternoon, and bright shade afterwards.
This plant loves air circulating, so please resist the temptation to keep it in the shiny colorful foil it's usual sold in! Also, that foil keeps too much moisture around the roots, favoring rot, so just remove it as fast as you can! It is the fir... read more


On Jan 2, 2007, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

Here people plant them in their flower beds for a festive look around Christmas and they usually keep them all winter, but in the spring they are replaced with other flowers. I dont know why no one just plants them as a shrub. They plant them in the flower beds at one of the coldest times of the year (for us December is usually colder for some reason. It starts to warm up in January. i dont know why.), so it cant be that they are not cold hardy. although we are actually classified as zone 8b, we have mostly 9a "winters", so technically they shouldnt grow here during the holidays, but they do. Does anyone have an idea as to why?


On Jan 10, 2006, purewildbarley from Orem, UT wrote:

Those of us living in the frigid north, where there is no hope of planting a poinsettia outside, often throw them away by February. There is no reason for doing this! I have rescued a couple poinsettias from the trash, and found cultivating them rewarding. One has rebloomed for me this year (I didn't do anything to force the blooms -- I simply live in a basement apartment where it gets enough darkness, apparently), and is absolutely stunning because it is now much larger than the kind typically found foil-wrapped in grocery stores.

If you don't like the large size, it is easy to take cuttings: I accidentally knocked off one of the branches, repotted it, and now have a new small shapely plant.


On Dec 24, 2005, margu from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Okay then, I'm going to plant the one I just got a as a gift outside and see how it does in the hot Los Angeles summer!


On Dec 12, 2005, JerusalemCherry from Dunellen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitle." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.

Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.

William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name as it became more popular. At that time Mr. Prescott had just published a book called the Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. So, Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherri... read more


On Dec 9, 2005, kayma from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I received my poinsettia for Thanksgiving 2003 in a 6" pot. Since we now live in Southwest Florida , I was able to keep it healthy all winter (I have killed all others received in years past) and moved it outside onto the lanai in Spring '04. I repotted it this past July after one of the hurricanes (sorry lose track of which one did what when) knocked it over and broke off a few branches. It is a very forgiving plant as I did not water as frequently as I should've - at times only watering when the leaves were drooping. Last Christmas it did not give me any color but did bloom in April 05. This December it is blooming and very beautiful. I have done nothing special to get it to bloom except fertilize it once a month. My intent is to plant it outside in the near future.


On Feb 7, 2005, crazyplantguy from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

it is a well known fact among most gardeners that the poinsettia plant is not poisonous. Go to any poisonous plants page and you will find more. The plant is named after James Poinsett, who I'd rather forget because his job was to rid the U.S of american indians, not so respectful. So lets call this pretty plant euphorbia . Also grows with proper care after the holidays I'm not so sure about all of the closet buisness or the calculated daylight to get it to bloom. Just water and repot. Its green leaves are way nicer than red. I've had mine for about 2 years or so its taken on quite a tree appearance.


On Jan 4, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
Joel Roberts Poinsett, our first ambassador to Mexico, who dcovered this plant while in Mexico in 1828, brought back cuttings and grew them in his greenhouse in South Carolina. The rest is history. The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlayochitl; whereas, in Chile and Peru it is called the "Crown of the Andes." It is known as "lobster flower", "flower of the Holy Night" and "flame leaf flower" as well. The flowers (cyathia) are located in the center of the colorful bracts. Do not plant near a night time light source as this will disrupt the blooming cycle.

If you have never heard the legend of the Christmas poinsettia which originated in Mexico and are interested read below:

A girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo were very poo... read more


On Oct 13, 2003, JeanAdkins from Escondido, CA wrote:

I now have 4 poinsettias that I have growing in pots. After their Christmas bloom, I cut them back about half. Then I place them facing east and continue to water, feed and pinch back to keep them short and fuller. The bracts are not large but quite pretty. Beginning October 1, I cover them at night so that they are in total darkness. I wonder about this because of the huge poinsettia fields nearby to Escondido, CA where I live. I think it is time to repot them in larger containers, but they seem quite healthy.


On Oct 1, 2003, Phaltyme from Garden City, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

Such interesting experiences. I'm in Michigan. We got a very nice plant for Christmas and I don't discard a plant until it is stone-cold-dead. Anyway, it thrived in our living room and began to grow,what to do? We rearranged the furniture-with 5 kids and 2 cats-this wasn't easy. We finally settled on where to put it, it continued to grow and reached the ceiling and branched to about 5 ft. wide. WOW! Spring came just in time, it was difficult getting it outdoors but we did it. It stayed nice all summer but when frost time came, we had to tell it goodbye. We loved the experience.


On Sep 30, 2003, Larry_McMinn from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

After Christmas 2002 my neighbor was going to throw out her 8" high in a 6" pot Poinsettia, I ask if i could have it. Well after taking care of this beautiful plant for 10 months and its now in a 16" pot and its grown to a whopping 36" high plant which now seems not so large.

My only concern is when Christmas rolls around this year is someone my take my plant, and we have become very attracted to each other. I have found that in San Diego it needs about 64 ounces of water every other day to stay heathly and full sun. I will post some pics soon.


On May 18, 2003, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

When a child, we had Poinsettias growing on the East side of the house by the A/C unit. They were at least 6' high and needed no special tending. The Monarch butterflies (or at least a butterfly that looked like them, I was very little) loved them, and I used to sit in the middle of them on the A/C unit to watch them. It seems to me that they bloomed quite often. I also have some growing now, I just moved them from a full-sun exposure to a more dappled spot. I am in Central Florida and they were getting burned by the extreme sun and dry hot sandy soil. (They were in the back, which is all pine bark mulch and about 4 feet wide.) I am hoping for better results, with milder light and richer soil.


On Apr 16, 2003, Bug_Girl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

Most people don't keep this plant after Christmas, but I have seen some growing outdoors in my area. They they need some support or staking. They can climb up the side of a house.

I have heard stories about things like you have to keep them in total darkness or they won't rebloom, but if the ones planted outdoors bloom, then those stories can't be true. They come in a number of new and exciting colors, as well, as the red.


On Jan 21, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Native of Mexico, these can be seen growing wild as well as in domesticated home gardens. In mild climates, they can grow to be 20 feet tall when planted in the ground.

A marvelous sight to see in the winter months in Mexico - so tall and in full bloom for most of November, all of December, and January.


On Dec 17, 2002, WAYNEB wrote:

It is a common misconception that this plant is poisonous to humans or pets. It is not poisonous although the milky sap may be irritating to the skin of some sensitive people. There has been extensive scientific testing to back this up and many sites on the web can be accessed to verify it. One of the most detailed discussions is at: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/poinsettias.htm


On Sep 12, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a classic holiday plant, outsold only by Christmas trees. Sometimes pronounced "poin-set-uh" and sometimes "poin-set-ee-uh".

The species name, pulcherrima, means "most beautiful". This native of Mexico is named for Dr. J.R. Poinsett, and was introduced to gardeners in the early 19th century. The "flowers" are actually bracts, and growers have created larger, showier cultivars in recent years. Colors now range from white to burgundy, and some are bi-color, appearing to be "splashed" with contrasting colors.

In its natural habitat, this plant can easily reach 10' in one season. Most growers pinch it back to create more branches and keep it under 2' tall for retail sales.