If your poinsettia plant is dying, it means there is an environmental factor that is negatively affecting your plant and causing it stress. The key to effectively reviving your dying poinsettia is to correctly identify the cause of the stress.
In this article, we will discuss the different reasons your poinsettia may be dying and how to save it. If you are currently experiencing this problem, keep reading.
How do I know my poinsettia is dying and how can I save it?
The leaves are turning yellow
One of the signs that indicate an ailing poinsettia is yellowing leaves. Yellowing poinsettia leaves are often an indication of overwatering, but they can also be observed in underwatered poinsettias. You can tell if the discoloration is due to overwatering or underwatering by checking the soil at the base of the plant and through the drainage holes of the pot. If the soil looks and feels boggy and waterlogged, then it is probably overwatered. Overwatered poinsettias’ leaves will droop and turn yellow.
When a plant’s soil is waterlogged, oxygen cannot penetrate it to reach the roots. Roots need oxygen to breathe, and they will die without it. Dead roots can develop root rot, which will leave them susceptible to fungal or bacterial diseases.
Other factors that contribute to overwatering are pots that do not have drainage holes at the bottom, soil that is poorly-draining, and placing a drip-tray or saucer underneath the pot but forgetting to empty it.
You can save a yellowing poinsettia by making sure the soil is capable of drying out in just the right time – neither too quickly nor too slowly. If you think you have been watering the plant too frequently, scale back the watering and only do so when the top two inches of the soil are dry. If the soil is still somewhat damp, check it again after one or two days. Essentially, you are aiming to provide the volume of water that the plant would consume in its natural habitat.
The plant is turning black
When the temperature around your plant is too low, or if the plant is exposed to frost, it can turn black from frost damage. Remember that these plants do not like the cold; they prefer to be kept in a place no colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you notice that some leaves on your poinsettia are turning black, check that the plant is not touching the glass of the window, as this glass can frost over. Cut off any damaged foliage and make sure you place the plant in a location where it is not hit by cold drafts from windows or vents.
Leaves are falling off
The most common causes of falling poinsettia leaves are changes in the temperature around the plant or in the air flow.
This is commonly seen in plants that have just been brought home from the nursery, where they were grown in near-perfect conditions. In a greenhouse, the humidity, light, water and temperature are all controlled, so when the plant finds itself in your home with conditions that are drastically different from those in the greenhouse, it will become stressed.
If the plant is taken out of the greenhouse and exposed to temperatures that are lower than it is used to, the leaves will fall off and the plant will die back, even if you provide it with good care.
The leaves will also fall off if the plant is underwatered.
Save your poinsettia by making sure the temperature is always above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Pick the warmest room in your house for your plant, and ensure that there are no drafts or vents anywhere nearby. These can cause unstable temperatures which can dry out your plant and cause leaf drop.
Poinsettias do not like full sunlight, so place them somewhere with bright, indirect light.
If the leaf-dropping is due to drought, soak the soil well. You may need to place the pot in a basin of water for the water to really penetrate the dry soil.
As mentioned above, water the plant only when the top two inches of soil are dry. If the soil is still somewhat damp, check the soil again after one or two days.
Curling and wilting leaves
Low humidity and underwatering are the most common culprits of wilting and curling poinsettia leaves. These signs indicate that the roots of the plant are drying out faster than they can absorb moisture.
Because poinsettias are tropical plants, they need more humidity than most other house plants, but they also need their soil to dry out between watering.
Your plant may be underwatered either because you are not giving it enough water, or because you are only lightly watering the top of the soil so that the deeper soil is not getting enough moisture.
Leaf curling and wilting happens when the plant sacrifices the older leaves near the bottom so that it can better channel its limited water into the younger leaves at the top.
Save your wilted poinsettia by placing it in a spot where there are no warm or cold drafts, as these can dry out your plant. While the plant is recovering, make sure you do not put it anywhere where it can get direct sunlight.
Mist the plant twice a week to make its surroundings temporarily humid. This also protects the leaves from drying out.
In cases of chronic underwatering, the soil can become so dry that it actively repels water and pouring water from above may be ineffective. To correct this, place the plant in a basin of water for 10 minutes to give it a good soak.
To know when to water your poinsettia, touch the soil in the pot. If the soil is dry, water the plant; if it is still damp, wait one or two days and check the soil again.
Your poinsettia is dying because it is stressed due to an environmental factor. This factor could be drought, low humidity, overwatering or temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
To save a wilting poinsettia, increase watering and mist the leaves. If the plant is suffering from cold temperatures, transfer it to a warm room and remove any dead or dying, blackened foliage. If you have overwatered your plant, check for root rot, remove any rotten roots, repot the plant and adjust your watering schedule.
Only water your poinsettia when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. If the soil is still slightly damp, wait one or two days and check the soil again before watering.
Image: istockphoto.com / Andrei Lavrinov