Transplanting Poinsettia Plants: Can You Transplant Poinsettias Outside

A poinsettia plant being repotted.
Image by monkeystock

By Bonnie L. Grant

Transplanting poinsettia plants will ensure they get plenty of root room as they grow and a new source of nutrition. In warm regions, you may also try moving a poinsettia plant outside in a sheltered location. You may not get blooms again, as the plant requires very specialized lighting and treatment, but the notched foliage will still provide outstanding greenery to set off other landscape plants. The secret to healthy plants is knowing how to transplant poinsettias and what continued care they need.

How to Transplant Poinsettias in Containers

Poinsettias are a holiday staple, but once the colorful flower-like bracts are spent, they are just another houseplant. You can try to fool the plant into producing the colorful leaves the next season, but first you have to keep the plant healthy. Some gardeners choose to save the potted plants indoors, especially in cooler regions. Can you transplant poinsettias outside? Absolutely, but there are some special requirements for this Mexican native to keep it thriving and lively.


All container plants need good soil, the right size container and excellent drainage, and poinsettias are no exception. The optimum time for transplanting is late spring to early summer. The University of Minnesota recommends June 15 as your target date.

Choose a container that is 2 to 4 inches larger than the one in which the plant was grown. The soil should be organic, sterile and loose. A purchased blend with peat moss is a good choice. Remove the plant from its pot and loosen the roots gently.

Plant your poinsettia at the same depth it was growing in its previous container. Firm the soil around the roots and water it well. If you are using a saucer under the container, empty any standing water to prevent root rot.

Transplanting Poinsettia Plants Outdoors

Those of us lucky enough to live where there are few to no freezing periods can grow the plant directly outdoors. Can you transplant poinsettias outside in cooler regions? Yes, but make sure you wait until all danger of frost has passed.

Some experts recommend cutting the stems back by half before moving a poinsettia plant, but this isn’t strictly necessary. However, it will encourage new growth which can be pinched to encourage denser plants and more bracts.

Prepare a garden bed in a sunny but protected area, such as the southern wall of your home. Incorporate organic material, like compost, to enrich the garden soil and increase drainage. Dig the hole several inches deep and wider than the root ball. Fill the hole with loose soil to bring it up to the level of the plant’s root ball. Loosen the roots and place the poinsettia in the hole, filling in around the root ball. Water the plant in well.

Additional Tips for Moving Poinsettia Plants

Poinsettias do best in daytime temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.) or more and nighttime temperatures of no less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C.). That means northern gardeners will need to move the plant indoors by the end of summer.

The plant will benefit from half strength liquid plant fertilizer applied in early March and every 3 to 4 weeks. Keep the soil moderately moist but never soggy or completely dried out. Touch the surface of the soil to determine if the plant needs water.

To force the colorful bracts, you will need to start in October providing special conditions. Give the plant 14 hours of darkness and 6 to 8 hours of bright light for 8 to 10 weeks. Nighttime temperatures must be 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 C.) for the plant to get tricked into blooming again.

With a little luck and good care, you may be enjoying a holiday with colorful foliage for weeks.

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