How to Prune Poinsettias for Optimal Growth

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

A guide on how to prune poinsettias for optimal growth, including the best time to prune and how to properly prune your plant.

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Most people prune their poinsettias too early in the season, which prevents the plants from putting on a good show of color for Christmas. Ideally, you should prune your poinsettias in late August or early September, before the days start getting shorter and the nights longer. This will give the plant time to produce new growth that will be exposed to the shorter days, which triggers the production of colorful bracts.

What You’ll Need

-Pruning shears
-A sharp knife
-Rubbing alcohol or soap and water


1.Start by pruning back any stems that are more than 6 inches long.poinsettias grow best when they are evenly balanced, so cut each stem at the same point.

2.Remove any leaves that are yellowing or browning – these are old leaves that will no longer provide nutrition to the plant.

3.Trim back any stems that are crossing over other stems, or that are growing in a way that seems unnatural. Poinsettias should have a symmetrical shape, so you want to encourage growth in all directions.

4.Once you have finished pruning, disinfect your tools with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. This will prevent the spread of diseases to your plant.

The Process

Poinsettias are a beautiful, traditional Christmas plant. Though they are popular, many people don’t know how to care for them properly. One important step in proper care is pruning. This article will explain how and when to prune your poinsettias for optimal growth.

Step One: Cut back the plant by one-third its height.

In order to encourage your poinsettia to branch out and produce more flower bracts (the colorful leaf-like structure that most folks think of as the flowers), you need to prune it. You’ll want to wait until mid-January to do this. Cut the plant back by one-third its height, making sure to cut just above a bud. If no buds are visible, make your cut at an angle so that any new growth will be directed outward from the plant.

Step Two: Pinch back any new growth to encourage a fuller plant.

As your plant begins to grow new shoots, pinch back the shoots to about 6 inches to encourage a fuller plant. Pinching back also helps the plant to focus its energy on growing wider instead of taller.

Step Three: Fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer.

Give the plant a very light feeding about 2 weeks after pruning. Use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks through the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can cause excessive leaf growth at the expense of flower bud development.


Pruning your poinsettia at the correct time and in the proper way will result in a healthier, more floriferous plant. Armed with a sharp pair of pruning shears and following the above advice, you can create a festive holiday display that will be the envy of all your neighbors.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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