Poinsettias on Your Desktop

There is no plant more associated with Christmas than the poinsettia.  The good news is that the number of cultivars keeps expanding each year.  Colors and shapes are available to fit any situation or décor.  Big ones are great for church or bank lobbies…but small ones make a big difference in the enjoyment of the season and afterwards too.  Considering the amount of time that many of us spend at work in December, a small desk sized plant is a good idea.


The first consideration is taking them to your workplace or home office from the point of purchase.  Keep in mind that these plants are warm weather ones, native to Mexico and found throughout the Middle East.  Putting them in your shopping cart along with the tree lights and tinsel and then strolling out to the car won’t cut it.  Instead, take steps to insulate them from the cold air outside until they arrive inside:

*Take a cooler or tote with you to the store.  After purchase, they can be place inside to provide a buffer from cold temperatures.  Thin paper sleeves provide a little protection, but often not enough.

*Warm up the car before you arrive at the store.

*Make the purchase your last stop in holiday shopping, not the first.

*Take along a “plant care buddy” to assist with the project.

desktop poinsettia IMG_3790

Once safely inside, take time to remove foil, or any wrapping.  Water the plant thoroughly and redecorate it to fit the spot where it will be displayed.  Punch a few holes in the wrapping to allow excess water to drain from the soil, or arrange the pot so that it can be easily removed when it’s time to water.  Set the plant in bright light and warm temperatures indoors.  Again, think Mexico where they are from.


Poinsettias are bred to perform for several months inside.  Usually, if they’ve been well cared for, they will start to drop leaves and look ragged sometime in early March.  At that point, push it to the back of the desk or hide it with a stack of papers, so that it’s not an eyesore, but allow it to still receive light and warmth.  The goal is to keep it alive till summer then set them outside for rejuvenation.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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