Poinsettias, or Christmas plants, are famous for their showy red, white, or pink bracts and big, dark leaves. When flourishing, there is nothing quite like them, and they make beautiful additions to the home.
For this reason, it is understandably disappointing if a poinsettia starts to wilt, drop leaves, or look less than healthy.
Read on to find out the reasons poinsettias become ill.
Why is my poinsettia dying?
Poinsettias will suffer if they are underwatered, overwatered, too hot, too cold, or are experiencing fungal diseases and pests. Underwatering, aka drought stress, results in wilted leaves that drop. Overwatering results in yellow leaves that drop from the base up. Extreme fluctuations in environmental temperatures can cause poinsettias distress.
Underwatering a Poinsettia
If an otherwise healthy poinsettia suddenly starts showing signs of wilting, curling, and dropping leaves, it may be suffering from drought stress.
The easiest way to check for this is to insert a fingertip into its soil to feel if it is moist or dry. Better yet, look for moisture at the pot’s bottom by feeling the soil through its drainage hole.
If a poinsettia’s soil is dry throughout, you can revive it with a thorough soak.
In addition to this, allow it to stand in a shallow water basin for a few hours, as too-dry soil tends to deter moisture from its top layer.
By standing in water for a while, roots can soak up the goodness of water back into their systems.
Overwatering a Poinsettia
As with underwatering, overwatering can give a poinsettia the appearance that it is dying. Sad-looking yellow leaves that start dropping from the plant’s base are an indication of too much water.
If left unattended, this will eventually cause root rot, which can be fatal to plants.
To check for overwatering, feel the plant’s soil through the pot’s drainage hole. If it is soggy and heavy, the chances are that the plant is overwatered.
Aside from watering too frequently, the reasons for this may include drainage hole blockages, compacted soil, or standing in water for prolonged periods.
To recuperate an overwatered poinsettia, first, give the soil time to completely dry out. Then, check to ensure there are adequate drainage holes and that water can flow straight through it.
When you resume watering, make sure to scale it back so that you only water it when the top layer of soil has dried. Do not allow them to stand in saucers or pots where water dams up.
Ideal Temperatures for Poinsettias
Poinsettias are sensitive to temperature and can wilt or drop leaves if they regularly experience hot, dry air gusts or cold drafts.
For this reason, it is best to keep them away from heaters, air conditioners, and open doors or windows.
Poinsettias thrive in temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius) during the day and nighttime temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 18 degrees Celsius).
They will suffer cold damage in areas below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), resulting in blackened leaves and eventual death.
For optimal health, these gorgeous plants need at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day and medium to high humidity.
Diseases in Poinsettias
The diseases that most commonly affect poinsettias include Pythium and Rhizoctonia root rot, Botrytis, and powdery mildew.
Root rot, a fungal infection often brought on by overwatering, can be identified by brown or black roots, excessive leaf drop, stunted growth, and dark borders on the plant’s lower stems.
Root rot at a late stage is almost impossible to cure, and it is better to dispose of the plant before the disease spreads.
Botrytis presents with leaf blight and stem cankers, and in later stages, grey mold (or grey spores) on the poinsettia’s leaves.
Similarly, powdery mildew causes a whitish, powder-like substance to appear on the leaves and bracts of the plant.
Botrytis and mildew can be treated with organic fungicides. Infected areas of poinsettias must be pruned away and destroyed.
Pests Attacking Poinsettias
In terms of pests, the greatest irritations to poinsettias are whiteflies, mealybugs, and mites.
Whitefly infestations are identifiable by the presence of small, white flying bugs and mottled, chlorotic leaves.
Mealybugs make their presence known by turning leaves yellow and stunting plant growth.
Mites have the potential to discolor leaves and bracts until they take on a bronze hue.
To control pest infestations in poinsettias, the best course of action is the use of organic insecticides or insecticidal soaps. After that, regularly inspect the plant to ensure the infection’s controlled.
Frequently Asked Questions about Why My Poinsettia is Dying
Do poinsettias bloom more than once?
Although chiefly considered ornamental and usually only kept for the holidays, poinsettias can bloom year after year if proper care is implemented. Once they lose their leaves, they need to be pruned back and stored in a dark, dry space until the spring and given enough water to keep from wilting. In spring, they can be repotted, fed with fertilizer, and placed in indirect light.
How often should I water my poinsettia?
In general, watering once a week should suffice. However, the best way to keep poinsettias satisfied is to check the soil’s moisture frequently. You can do this by inserting a fingertip into the soil. If it is too dry, it needs water. If it is very moist and soggy, hold off.
What is the best way to water a poinsettia?
Try to avoid getting the leaves and bracts too wet. When watering, aim to soak the soil through so that water reaches the roots. Allow the plant to drain in the sink so that it does not end up standing in a saucer or pot of water.
Poinsettias are plants with personality, and their vibrant appearance is what keeps us coming back for more every year.
As ornamentals, it is important that they hang on to their looks for the longest time possible.
The best way to ensure this is to keep an eye out for signs of distress and treat any issues that may occur as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.