Growing Poinsettia As A Houseplant, Foliage And All

I once wrote about keeping poinsettia plants after Christmas even though the vast majority of us simply toss them out once the holidays end. I used to be on that list. Then one day I decided to see past my poinsettia plant's red beauty, discovering the green leaves on poinsettias can be just as pretty.

Enjoying Red, and Green, Poinsettia Plants

In spite of caring for poinsettias as recommended, I could never get one to actually rebloom. Even with the best of care - nothing! No lovely red color. No pink. Not even a white one rebloomed. So, I would eventually submit to my defeat, throw in the towel and call it a day. There's always next year, right? That was the old me. I don't know why I hadn't considered growing poinsettia as a houseplant beyond the holidays regardless of whether or not those colorful flower bracts returned. 

But then one year I decided to give it another try. And do you know what happened? I discovered that poinsettias can be just as lovely when grown for their foliage. In fact, in their native surroundings of Mexico, poinsettias are not the colorful potted plants we know and love. They're actually small tree-like shrubs. With this in mind I decided to look at the poinsettia differently, not only enjoying its colorful bracts but embracing its shrubby foliage growth too. 

I still acquire various poinsettia plants each year, enjoying their beauty throughout the holiday season, but I no longer toss them once the holidays end. Of course, I may need to rethink this since I'm now growing more than I really need. I've managed to get a few to rebloom, though never as spectacularly as when I first obtained them. Mostly I just let them grow happily as shrubby foliage plants. They love the spring and summer heat, with afternoon shade. One of my favorite poinsettia plants, about 3-4 years old now, tops out at about three feet (.91 m.) tall. It's no longer the bushy red plant it once was when I got it. Instead, it's a nice healthy dark green. And I don't mind at all. With annual pruning, you can easily maintain a more compact size and bushier look, but I only prune this one as needed so I can enjoy its interesting tree-like appearance. And the green leaves on poinsettias? Well, they're okay too.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.