Poinsettias are synonymous with Christmas around the world. They are almost forgotten about during the year until they pop up again in stores, signaling that the festive season is on its way.

But, now that the festive season has passed and we are slowly getting back into the swing of things, you may be wondering what you should do with your potted poinsettia after Christmas. There are a couple of options to try, depending on how much you love these plants and how much effort you want to put into caring for them.

Keep them in the pot

While they are the most famous plants of the festive season, poinsettias grow year-round just like other potted plants. If you like the look of them, simply keep them in their containers around your home or on your patio.

Unlike other houseplants, poinsettias require full sun to grow. Aim for around 6 hours of direct sun per day. Keep the water slightly moist but not waterlogged, making sure your chosen container has enough drainage holes.

If the roots start peeking through the drainage holes, repot them into a larger container with light and airy potting soil. Also trim stems back if they appear leggy.

Encouraging poinsettias to flower again is far more difficult than keeping them alive throughout the year. Poinsettias naturally flower in winter and need to be forced to flower in October and November for them to be ready for the festive season.

Place your plants in a dark and cool spot for a minimum of 12 hours a day to replicate the native conditions that trigger flowering. Keep doing this for about 2 months and your poinsettia may begin flowering once again.

Getting a poinsettia to flower is a tricky task, even for experienced gardeners. For South Africans, getting the plant to flower at Christmas is even harder due to the differing seasons. If you prefer a more relaxed approach, try one of the next two options.

Plant them in the garden

Poinsettias can also be planted in the garden once they have finished flowering. Here they can grow into garden shrubs around 2-4m high that will flower again every winter.

Poinsettias can grow leggy in the garden, and their consistent festive look isn’t for everyone. But if you are a fan of these plants, give them a spot with plenty of space and morning sun and they should thrive in your backyard.

Throw them away

The final choice is one most people opt for – simply throwing them away. Or better, throw them on your compost heap. It’s better to give up early and get rid of the plants rather than allow them to die off slowly on your dining room table. They will be far more useful when recycled than forgotten about.

Featured image: Brian Forsyth via Pexels