How Often to Water Poinsettias

  • The beauty of poinsettias (also known as Euphorbia pulcherrima) is excruciating. Add decorative pot covers, and you won the aesthetic lottery. With all the beauty they enhance our houses with, no wonder we are happy to engage in the proper maintenance of this plant—the more we care about poinsettias, the more splendid these plants become. 
  • Although quite common in our climate, this yuletide red, cream, or rosy pink tropical plant cannot handle cool or too warm temperatures, being the happiest indoors in a temperature from 60°F to 70°F during the day and night. Their favorite location varies depending on the season—in the winter, it’s best to treat poinsettias as house plants.
  • The article below presents the general care instructions and reveals how often to water your poinsettia. Let’s get to know all poinsettias’ needs in the article below.

Poinsettia plant—basics

In our culture, poinsettias are associated mainly with the Christmas holiday season decorations.

Euphorbia pulcherrima—also known as poinsettia—is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 2–13 ft. 

The plant bears dark green dentate leaves of 2.8–6.3 in length.

The flowers of these beautiful plants are minuscule; what we admire are large, colored bracts.

This tropical plant’s colorful bracts—normally flaming red, with cultivars being orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals but are actually leaves.

The poinsettia occurs naturally in Central America, from Mexico to southern Guatemala. They grow on mid-elevation, Pacific-facing slopes.

Aztecs cultivated this vibrant plant for traditional medicine in the past.

Nowadays, the poinsettia is a popular holiday plant, with its red and green foliage typically used for Christmas floral displays. Because of its specific festive appeal, this plant suits ideally to adorn households and church altars. 

Every year in the US, retailers sell approximately 70 million poinsettias in a six-week winter months’ holiday season. 

Poinsettia care tips

A poinsettia should be beautiful for 2-3 months with good care. 

For more gardening hacks, go to Mitchell’s Nursery and read how to keep your poinsettia until next Christmas and make it re-bloom all year round.

Proper poinsettia care will ensure its flowers—bracts, actually—remain healthy and delightful to look at for long. 

Poinsettias will enjoy a room temperature of around 60°F to 70°F. To be precise, it’s ideal when a temperature is from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and from 60 to 65 degrees at night.

Important: These plants will get stressed in temperatures below 50°F. 

Although poinsettia can stand lower temperatures for some time, the plant will collapse from frost damage if exposed to cool temperatures and winds for long.

Tip: Ask the florist to wrap the plant when you take your Poinsettia home from the store. Even temporarily covering the plant with a shopping bag can make a difference. This small action will increase your chances of getting home with a healthy plant and following care instructions. 

Poinsettias are tropical plants that require sunlight. They prefer bright, indirect light. 

Ensure your plants have a minimum of six hours of bright (but not direct) sunlight each day. Direct sunlight isn’t good for poinsettias as it can cause damage to their leaves.

Be careful not to place your poinsettias in 

  • drafty areas, or 
  • where there is excessive heat—this rule applies to all house plants,
  • near a fireplace or on appliances;

During winter holidays, i.e., in a period when poinsettias usually come to our houses, there’s plenty of time to engage in gardening and maybe even get passionate about it!

Poinsettia has no insect or disease problems. Also, this plant grows slowly and doesn’t need frequent trimming or transplanting.

To make your poinsettia bloom and produce color, provide it with a strict light/dark regimen. You’ll need to provide 13 to 16 hours of uninterrupted and complete darkness daily. 

Water your poinsettia

Our plant will thrive if we water poinsettias when the soil feels dry to the touch or when the pot becomes lightweight.

On average, poinsettias will require watering about once a week.

Important: In case you forget about watering, the good news is that poinsettias’ large tuberous roots store water and tough leaves conserve moisture so this plant can survive without water for extended periods. 

Water the plant slowly and thoroughly in a kitchen sink. Then, let it drain and put it back. Repeat after a week. 

Unfortunately, many holiday flowers have it worse from the start. They’re wrapped in shiny green or red foil, hiding the plastic pot beneath, 

  • hindering air circulation, 
  • preventing good drainage (you can try to make some DIY drainage holes), and 
  • blocking light from the bottom foliage;

With poinsettias wrapped in foil, tilt the plant while holding the root ball. Pour the excess water into the sink.

Or even better, remove the pot from the foil when watering, and let the water drain completely before placing the pot back into the foil. This procedure may seem cumbersome, but it’s an elementary step that will increase the longevity of your lovely poinsettia.

Some websites recommend ensuring your poinsettia has enough water using ice cubes, but according to others, it’s the worst idea. 

After all, why would a tropical poinsettia, one that never sees frost in the wild, like to have ice cubes in its pot?

Also, especially while our poinsettia is in full bloom, it’s essential to avoid dry soil, keep the moisture even, and have enough water in the pot. On the other hand, Ice cubes release very little water at a time and in spots. 

Be careful not to overwater your poinsettia or let it sit in standing water. 

It’s critical to be aware of signs of over watering. So how do you know your poinsettia plant experiences excess water?

The best way to know that your poinsettia is over-watered is when its leaves turn yellow or brown. 

Poinsettias will also wilt in severe cases of overwatering.

Luckily, there’s a way to bring an overwatered poinsettia back to its splendid shape.

First, you need to check if your poinsettia plant develop root rot. If it did, remove any rotten roots and repot the plant. 

Don’t forget to adjust your watering schedule so the problem doesn’t happen again. 

The golden rule is only to water your poinsettia when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. If the soil surface is still slightly damp and there’s any soil moisture, wait one or two days. Then, recheck the soil before watering. 

Important: Poinsettias die more often from overwatering than underwatering. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Poinsettias drop their leaves when exposed to drafts and sudden temperature changes, when they're in extreme need of water, or if the room they're staying in is too cool or dry.
Poinsettias need six hours of indirect light daily. Natural light is the best for poinsettias, but fluorescent light will do as well. Keep your plant healthy by placing it away from open doors and cold windows. Avoid also warm and cold drafts from furnaces or air conditioners. Poinsettias can survive in low light and without water for extended periods.
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