Poinsettia plant

How Often Should You Water Poinsettias?

In Gardening, Tips by Jamie

Poinsettias have become synonymous with Christmastime and the holiday season, their pots usually wrapped in decorative foil. Traditionally, the native Mexican plant is available in red however it has been modified to produce other eccentric colors such as white, yellow, and pink. While they are common for the holiday season, poinsettias will last throughout the entire year if properly cared for.

Water poinsettias every few days to once a week when the top layer of soil is dry to touch. Water the soil until it is saturated and water begins to flow out of the drainage holes. To avoid overwatering, the poinsettia should be planted in a pot with drainage holes so that water does not pool around the roots.

Poinsettias require the right balance of watering, sunlight exposure, and humidity to thrive. While they can seem temperamental to maintain, there are a few easy tips to follow.

How to Tell if Poinsettias Needs Water?

You can tell if your poinsettia needs water by checking the top layer of the soil. If it feels dry to touch, you should water your poinsettia, saturating the soil completely until the water starts to run through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Depending on how warm the area that your poinsettia is kept in, you should ideally water your poinsettia every few days. The soil should not completely dry out between watering but it should be planted in a pot or area with proper drainage so the water does not pool around the roots.

In cool climates, you may need to water your poinsettias less due to less moisture evaporation from the soil whereas, in warm or hot climates, your poinsettias will need sufficient hydration so that they do not wilt or dry out. The best way to gauge when your poinsettia needs water is that the surface soil should be dry to touch.

How Do You Know When Your Poinsettia is Sufficiently Watered?

How Do You Know When Your Poinsettia is Sufficiently Watered?

You will know your poinsettia has been sufficiently watered, once the water starts to run through the drainage holes at the base of the pot. Since many poinsettia pots come wrapped in foil, it is important to either remove the foil or poke drainage holes into it, to allow for proper drainage.

When watered correctly, poinsettias will produce strong leaves. If your poinsettia has been overwatered, the leaves will begin to wilt and the root system may be compromised which can be difficult to recover.

If your poinsettia has been under-watered, the soil will frequently appear dry and cracked and leaves will wilt, be prone to drying out, and dying however it is easier to recover a poinsettia from being under-watered than overwatered.

Can You Overwater Poinsettias?

Poinsettias can be overwatered and doing so is a quick way to kill your plant. While the soil of your poinsettias should not be allowed to dry out completely, too much water in the soil can cause root rot. To avoid overwatering your poinsettias, they should be planted in pots with drainage holes.

Because many poinsettias come wrapped in decorative foil, drainage can become an issue. To alleviate this, you can either remove the foil altogether or poke drainage holes into the bottom so any excess water can drain well. You should place your poinsettia in another pot or a drainage tray to catch any excess water, though the plant should not be allowed to sit in the excess water.

What are Signs of an Overwatered Poinsettia?

Signs of an overwatered poinsettia include wilted or dying leaves, mold or spore growth around the roots, root rot, and the top layer of the soil will be constantly damp to touch. It can be difficult to recover a poinsettia that has been overwatered. To avoid this, ensure your poinsettia is planted in a pot with drainage holes that allow any excess water to drain away from your plant.

How Long Can a Poinsettia Go Without Water?

Ideally, poinsettias should be watered every few days or once a week based on the temperatures and climate it is growing in. If your poinsettia has gone more than one week without water, the risk of the soil completely drying out increases which can cause your poinsettia leaves to dry out, wilt, or die. The best way to identify if your poinsettia needs to be watered is that the top layer of soil will be dry to touch.

Should Poinsettia Soil Be Moist?

The best sign to determine whether or not your poinsettia needs water is to check that the top layer of soil is dry to touch however the soil mustn’t completely dry out between each watering. It is best to saturate the soil with water when watering until the water starts to run through the drainage holes at the bottom and only water again once the topsoil is dry.

In hot climates, poinsettias can dry out, wilt, and die if the soil is too dry but can also die from an excess of water remaining pooled around the root system and in the soil. Proper drainage will be your poinsettia’s best friend at maintaining moist, well-balanced soil.

Why is Poinsettia Turning Brown/Yellow?

Your poinsettia may be turning yellow or brown for two main reasons. The first is that the foliage has dried out and burned due to exposure to direct sunlight. Poinsettias prefer 6-8 hours of diffused sunlight but the exposure should not be direct, nor should the sun exposure be too little throughout the day as this can compromise the strength of your poinsettia.

A poinsettia may also discolor if it has been overwatered, which can lead to too much water being stored around the roots for long periods. This can lead to root rot, ultimately killing the plant.

Why is my Poinsettia Droopy?

Your poinsettia may be droopy for a couple of reasons. The most common reason is overwatering. When a poinsettia has been overwatered, the moisture that stays around the roots can cause root rot and plant decay ultimately showing up as wilted leaves.

It is typical for poinsettias to come in pots wrapped in decorative foil however this can hinder the drainage of the soil. Ideally, poinsettias should be planted in well-draining peat-based soil, in a pot with drainage holes. If it comes wrapped in decorative foil, remove the foil or poke holes into the base to allow for better drainage.

The second reason your poinsettia may be droopy is that it is not receiving enough sunlight. Poinsettias should receive about 6-8 hours of filtered sunlight per day. While direct sunlight can burn the leaves, not enough light can cause the plant to weaken.

Do Poinsettias Need Fertilizer?

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During the blooming season, poinsettias should not be fertilized. If you are keeping your poinsettia throughout the year, you can provide it with half-strength diluted fertilizer in the spring when there is no new growth. Your poinsettia can be fertilized every three to four weeks after this until it is showing signs of new growth.

How Much Sunlight Do Poinsettias Need?

Poinsettias require six to eight hours of diffused sunlight per day. They should be placed near an east or south-facing window. The sunlight should be filtered with a curtain or other slight obstruction between the plant and the sun as direct sun exposure can cause the leaves to burn. If poinsettias do not receive enough sunlight, they will struggle to grow with fervor.

Will Temperatures and Humidity Affect Poinsettias?

Poinsettias prefer to grow in warm temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit although, slight variances above or below these temperatures should not drastically impact your plant. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will cause your poinsettia to weaken and die. Exposure to high heat can also cause your poinsettia to dry out and the leaves to drop or wilt.

Poinsettias prefer humid climates to grow however this can be balanced out with how often it is watered. In a humid climate, you may need to water your poinsettia less as the moisture around your plant as well as in the soil will be better retained.

In dry climates, you may need to water your poinsettia more. Check the top layer of soil and water it when it is dry to touch. To assist with humidity in dry climates, you may wish to run a humidifier near your poinsettias.

Will Poinsettias Survive in the Winter?

Poinsettias can survive the winter (and all year) under the right conditions. If your poinsettias have been kept outside, they should be brought inside well before the first frost. Remember to isolate any outdoor plants brought inside from indoor plants to avoid the spread of any unwanted bugs or bests until it has been treated.

Because winter and cold climates tend to be dry, your poinsettias may require more frequent watering (careful not to overwater) or you may wish to run a humidifier near your poinsettias to increase the humidity in the air surrounding them.

Will Poinsettias Survive in Direct Sunlight?

Poinsettias do best with filtered or diffused sunlight. They should be placed near an east or south-facing window that receives sunlight for 6-8 hours per day. The sunlight should be obstructed in some way (sheer curtains for example), so as not to burn the leaves which can happen with exposure to direct sunlight. Conversely, if the poinsettia does not receive enough sunlight, it will not thrive and will have a shorter lifespan.

Final Thoughts

Although poinsettias are synonymous with the holiday season, they can and should be enjoyed as a year-round plant. When provided with the right sunlight, watering, and climate, your poinsettias will thrive and re-bloom for the next holiday season.

Wondering about watering other plants:

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.