How often water poinsettia?

How Often Do You Water a Poinsettia

The poinsettia, also called the Christmas Flower and the Nativity Flower, can be kept indoors year round with the proper care. Poinsettia is a short day plant, and this is why it sets its beautiful leaf color during the short days of winter. After the holidays and when the days begin to lengthen, you must take the initiative to limit the plant’s daylight hours. At night, cover the plant and make sure it is somewhere it will get no light such as a closet.

Read the following instructions to know how to water a poinsettia tree correctly.

Watering will depend on the humidity of your home. In the south, for instance, it may not be necessary to water the plant more than every couple of weeks. In the arid west, however, water your plant weekly or when the soil feels very dry. Never let your poinsettias sit in water. Bottom line, when the soil feels dry, water sparingly.

How much water does a poinsettia need? A common disease while growing poinsettia is root rot caused by soaking in water. Normally, if you place Poinsettia at the side of a window, you can water a cup for 1 to 2 weeks even it is a small Poinsettia tree. One important thing to note is that you should wait for the soil to dry before watering the next time. Some newbies often spray every day to keep the soil moist, this is not the correct way to water the poinsettia.

In the winter or just after the holidays, you will see the leaves begin to fall so you should not water a lot. Trim your poinsettia and place it in the shade until springtime.

Poinsettias have become such a beautiful holiday symbol yet people throw them away because they don’t know how to care for them once the holiday is over.

Poinsettias also do not like air movement so while it is out during the day, make sure it is not near a window where a breeze may reach it. Poinsettias do like a sunny spot in which to sit.

Because the poinsettia is considered a tropical plant, planting outside is limited to southern Florida. You can, however, plant your potted poinsettia outside in northern regions once all danger of frost is past and outside air temperatures will be very warm, usually by June.

When warm, put your potted plant outside in a shady area to get the plant used to outdoor temperatures. After a few days in the shade, it should be safe to actually plant now in a sunny location. If you are in the north, re-pot your plant on September 1 and bring back indoors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are poinsettias poisonous?

Poinsettias are not poisonous. For nearly eight decades, this rumor has continued to circulate because of one unfounded story in 1919: that an Army officer’s two year old child allegedly died after eating a poinsettia leaf. While never proved by medical or scientific fact and later determined to be hearsay, the story has taken on a life of its own. But, the defenders of the poinsettia have pulled out all the scientific stops to allay public fears.

The Society of American Florists (SAF) worked with the Academic Faculty of Entomology at Ohio State University (OSU) to exhaustively test all parts of the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). OSU researchers established that rats exhibited no adverse effects – no mortality, no symptoms of toxicity, and no changes in dietary intake or general behavior patterns – when given even unusually large amounts of different poinsettia parts. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) accepts animal tests as valid indicators whether any product or natural growth is harmful to human health.

The OSU research was conducted 23 years ago and other sources have continued to reinforce the poinsettia’s safety.

According to the American Medical Association’s Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no effect.

After reviewing all available poinsettia related information, the CPSC denied a petition in 1975 to require warning labels for poinsettia plants. Despite its continued circulation, the myth of the poinsettia is gradually losing steam.

Source: Society of American Florists

American Journal of Emergency Medicine Study

In this study, 22,793 cases of poinsettia exposures were electronically analyzed. 98.9% of the exposures were accidental with 93.9% involving children. 96.1% of the exposed patients were not treated in a health care facility and 92.4% did not require any type of therapy.

How do you get a poinsettia to bloom?

To get a poinsettia to reflower you have to keep it in total darkness between 5 pm and 8 am. Start this around October 1st and continue until color shows on the bracts; usually around early to mid-December. Any little exposure to light can prevent flowering. Covering the plant with a light-proof bag and placing it in a closet might work. Night time temperatures above 70-75°F can decay or prevent flowering.

How can I make my poinsettia last during the holiday season?

  • Place the poinsettia in a sunny window.
  • Do not let any part of plant touch cold window panes.
  • Indoor temperatures from 60 to 70°F is ideal for long plant life.
  • High temperatures will shorten the life of the colorful bracts.
  • Water only when the soil is dry.
  • Placing your poinsettia in a cool room 55 to 60°F at night will extend blooming time.
  • Do not fertilize when plant is in bloom.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

I want to keep my poinsettia plants. When can I take them outside?

Move your poinsettia plant outdoors when all danger of frost has passed. Place it in a sunny area but where it will get moderate shade in the afternoon.

Should I fertilize my poinsettia if I am keeping it past the holiday season?

Fertilize once a month with a water soluble houseplant fertilizer.

How often should I water the poinsettia?

Be sure to remove foil covering drain holes before watering. Water only when the soil is dry. Do not let the poinsettia wilt. Do not let it sit with water in the saucer. Empty the saucer.

How often should I water the poinsettia and what is the best technique(s) to use? are seemingly simple questions — yet the answer is sometimes confusing to people.
The simple and best answer is LIGHTLY, DAILY WITH A WEEKLY SOAK if drying has occurred.
Maintain the potting mix (soil) damp but not sopping wet. The dampness should feel cool to the touch. Lift up the pot after you have watered it. Take note of the weight of the pot with freshly watered soil. The weight will get lighter as the water is absorbed by the plant roots, but there reaches a point when it gets so light weight that is noticeable. It almost feels like a feather when it is dry. At that point, too, the soil actually has changed color from the dark (almost) black color of wet soil to a medium brown color of dry soil.
You never want the soil to get to that light weight, medium brown colored soil. That would be under-watering it and to rehydrate the root ball will require a soaking (described below). And you never want the soil to always be that heavy weight, dark (almost) black colored soil. That would be over-watering it. MOIST is best. Get in the habit of feeling the soil every day. That damp feel (I call it towel-damp) should be as uniform as possible each day.
Catch it before it starts going dry, but if you always have that cold, wet feel then the plant roots are so stressed with all that extra water surrounding them that they begin to go into a kind of shock. That may be when you start seeing lower leaves drop off from over-watering. They may or may not turn yellow before they drop off. You may even see the flowers (colorful leaves called bracts which are considered “the flowers”) and leaves drooping, looking like they are wilted.
Interestingly enough lower leaves also drop off if you let the soil get too dry. Flowers and leaves can droop when they are under-watered, too. In fact, that’s when they really are wilted. What you see (yellow leaves, dropped leaves, drooping or wilting) all looks the same to the untrained eye, but the cause could be as different as too much water or too little water. Only the person doing the watering will know which it is.
Whenever you do water the plant, water it thoroughly until the water drips out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. That’s what the holes are there for. Most people take the poinsettia to the kitchen sink to water it thoroughly. A simple method to water a plant with an abundance of foliage without having to lift and possibly damage the foliage, is to soak the water through the holes in the bottom of the pot by submerging the bottom one-fourth of the pot in standing water after removing the pot covering. The water will be absorbed by the potting mix (soil) and wet/soak the entire root ball. Once soaked, allow to drain for 30 minutes before reapplying the pot cover and returning it to the display location. After such a thorough soaking, watering will not be necessary for several days. REMEMBER, how often it needs water can be determined by touching the soil, color observation and how heavy the pot feels. After soaking the plants, they will be at their maximum weight and, as they dry, the plant will weigh less and less. A measured weight can be taken when the plants have the maximum weight (root balls are saturated) and drying can subsequently be objectively measured by actual reduction in weight.
However, the thorough watering probably doesn’t need to occur more than once every week or even every 10 days. Some folks never want to cart their plants to the sink; those people will have to water their plant where it is setting.
Examine the soil (potting mix) daily, and when the surface is dry to the touch, water the soil until it runs freely out the drainage hole in the container. The amount of water recommended for use in various sized containers ensures that enough water will be applied so that some will run out the drainage hole. The recommended amount of water to be applied when the potting mix (soil) is low moisture for a 4 inch diameter pot is 6 fluid ounces (175 ml); for a 5 inch diameter pot is 9 fluid ounces (275 ml); for a 6 inch diameter pot is 12 fluid ounces (350 ml); for a 7 inch diameter pot is 16 fluid ounces (475 ml); and for an 8 inch diameter pot is 20 fluid ounces (600 ml). Filtered water is preferred.
If a saucer or pot cover is used, discard the water that collects in it after a 30 minute drainage period. Do not leave the plant standing in water unless the plants are not going to be watered for three or more days. If a long period is expected between watering’s such as over holiday closures, use this technique with a saucer or pot cover in place. Applying water from the top (surface), soak the water through the holes in the bottom of the pot until the bottom one-fourth of the pot is standing in water. The water will be gradually absorbed by the potting mix (soil) and wet/soak the entire root ball for several days. This technique is to be used ONLY when long durations are necessary between watering’s.
A wilted plant may drop its leaves prematurely, so check the soil frequently. Plants exposed to high light and low humidity require more frequent watering. If wilting does occur, immediately water with the recommended amount and 5 minutes later water again.
Anyone who gingerly tries to water the plant with the pot sitting in its tray or dish on the living room end table will know that it is almost impossible to give the plant a thorough watering when you are more worried about spilling onto the furniture or getting the water into the pot evenly. One easy way to water the potting mix in which the plants are growing without flooding the living room is to use ice cubes when applying moisture, i.e., put 4 ice cubes (64 ml or 2 fluid ounces of water) per day per small quart-size or 6-inch pot; put eight ice cubes (128 ml or 4 fluid ounces of water) per day per medium 8-inch pot; put twelve ice cubes (192 ml or 7 fluid ounces of water) per day per larger, 10-inch pots. Ice cube size varies; the recommendations given are for ice cubes for which 20 melted cubes will produce 320 ml or 11 fluid ounces of water as measured by a standard measuring cup used for cooking.
Now how often should you water? REMEMBER, how often it needs water can be determined by touching the soil, color observation and how heavy the pot feels. Not too wet, not too dry, just right in-between.
Revised and enhanced from an article by Charlie Mazza , Senior Extension Associate, Cornell Cooperative Extension

POINSETTIA AND CHRISTMAS TREE CARE

With Christmas approaching at an alarming rate, two plants immediately come to mind that require proper selection and care, poinsettias and Christmas trees.

CHRISTMAS TREE CARE:
The fragrance and beauty of a decorated tree are part of most family Christmas traditions. To keep your Christmas tree from drying out and becoming an eye-sore and potential fire hazard, you must carefully select and care for it.

When selecting a tree from a commercial lot, choose one as fresh as possible. Early selection may be beneficial if all trees were cut at the same time. Check for needle shedding and brittleness, an indication that the tree has dried out. Pull the needles. If they come off the stem easily, the tree is too dry. Bounce the butt of the tree on the ground. If many needles fall, reject the tree.

Check the shape and size of the tree’s base before purchase. Select a tree that will fit your stand. The stand should be designed to hold water. The base of the tree should be free of lateral branches for at least the first 8 inches to properly fit the stand.

After selecting a tree, keep it as fresh as possible. As soon as you get it home, cut about an inch off the base and put the tree in a bucket of clean, warm water. If the tree is not to be decorated immediately, store it outdoors in the shade until ready to use. Check the water level periodically. Keep the butt end of the tree in a container of water the entire time it is in the house. Refill the container daily as the tree requires a lot of water. Sprinkling water on the branches and needles before you decorate the tree will help retain freshness. You may also want to spray the tree with some of the anti-transpirants such as Wilt Proof or Cloud Cover which reduce water loss from needles. The tree will take up a larger quantity of water at first, as much as a gallon a day, but will slack off later. Tests show that a 6-foot Christmas tree will take up between 1 and 2.5 pints per day during the 3-week season. Once the tree is put in a container of water, never allow the container to dry out. Experience shows that needle loss from trees with an interrupted water supply is far greater than needle loss from trees with a continuous supply of water. An interrupted water supply could be worse than no water.

Several home recipes and manufactured products have been used by homeowners in an attempt to prolong the freshness of a cut Christmas tree. In testing these additives, none of them provided any clear-cut benefit over the use of water alone.

When you move the tree indoors, set it away from fireplaces or other heating units. Also, do not place the tree where a heating vent will blow dry air on the foliage. Open flames, such as lighted candles, should never be used on or near the tree. In addition, never leave your home with the Christmas tree lights still on.

The longer the tree is indoors, the more combustible it will become. Check electric light cords for fraying and worn spots that could easily lead to fires. Also do not overload the electric circuits and avoid placing electric toys directly under the tree. Be sure to avoid the use of combustible decorations.

Following these care and precaution measures should insure an attractive tree that stays fresh indoors for more than a week and a holiday season free from Christmas tree mishaps.

POINSETTIA CARE:
Poinsettias require proper selection and care. The red flowering poinsettia is by far the most popular flowering potted plant for the Christmas season. White, pink, and variegated white and pink are also available. Many new, long lasting varieties of poinsettias are now available. If properly cared for, they may last a month or more after Christmas.
DON’T EAT THE FLOWERS! Every year at this time when poinsettias are being sold and displayed some folks go crazy. They want to know if poinsettias are poisonous if eaten. Who cares! We’re not selling poke salad or collards here; we’re talking poinsettias – – plants that are to be looked at, not eaten. The poinsettia has been declared non-poisonous. This doesn’t mean that the leaves won’t give you a stomach ache if you don’t use the proper salad dressing and compliment the meal with the best wine selection. Rather than eating the beautiful poinsettia why not plant some seed of collards or mustard greens for future use?
Check your poinsettia daily and follow these tips:

  • Water your poinsettia frequently but don’t drown it. Make sure soil remains moist, but do not allow water to remain beneath the pot in the saucer or wrapping. Too much water will cause the roots to rot, and the plant will deteriorate. One easy way to water the potting mix in which the plants are growing without flooding the living room is to use ice cubes when applying moisture, i.e.,:
  • Put 4 ice cubes (64 ml of water) per day per quart-size or 6 1/2-inch pot which is the most common size sold;
  • Put eight ice cubes (128 ml of water) per day per 8-inch pot;
  • Put twelve ice cubes (192 ml of water) per day per larger, 10-inch pot.
  • Ice cube size varies; the recommendations given are for ice cubes for which 20 melted cubes will produce 320 ml of water as measured by a standard measuring cup used for cooking.
  • Remember that this watering technique provides supplemental watering only. If the plant wilts or the potting mix in which it is growing feels dry, rehydrate the mix by soaking (floating) the pot in water (kitchen sink, clean toilet, bucket) until the roots are completely saturated – then begin the daily ice cube watering schedule again. Poinsettias are closely related to many desert plants. Their first response to dry conditions is to drop their leaves in order to cut down water loss. Plants should be checked weekly for moisture content of the potting medium, i.e., if moist, then continue the ice cube regiment; if not, water (soak) the roots.
    1. Keep the plant out of drafts. Excessively hot, dry air from heating ducts will reduce the life of the plant. Also avoid cold drafts. Poinsettias are semitropical, and cannot tolerate cold temperatures or rapid temperature changes. Temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees are ideal.
    2. Place the plant in good light, but not direct sun.
    3. And finally, after blooming, discard or begin preparing the plant to bloom again next year.
    4. Poinsettias are perhaps the most difficult flowering potted plants to rebloom indoors. Fortunately in South Texas, poinsettias can be planted directly out-of-doors in the spring after the danger of frost is past. If placed in a protected area where early fall frost won’t harm it, they will make beautiful plants for the next holiday season. Fertilize as with any annual flowering plant during the growing season.
    5. Make sure that the outdoor poinsettia receives only natural sunlight. Any additional light from yard and street lights may inhibit coloring. Keep pinching out the tips of the new growth once a month so the plant will bush out. Do no pinching after August 15th. The plant should flower right on time if these procedures are followed.

MORE ABOUT POINSETTIAS AND THEIR CARE AND SELECTION:
QUESTION: Why are poinsettias being sold so early this year? They were never sold before Thanksgiving in the past.
ANSWER: It seems that poinsettias are being sold earlier and earlier in the year. Plants are ALREADY available in local nurseries. This Christmas plant is becoming a Thanksgiving plant and almost a Halloween plant!! How can we make the plants purchased early in the holiday season endure? Proper selection and follow-up care are important considerations when choosing poinsettias for the holiday season. Poinsettias are the featured plant in retail garden centers, florist shops, and grocery stores from mid-November through December, and are now available in a tremendous variety of bract colors ranging from red to white, marble, pink, and combinations of these colors. Red poinsettias represent around 90 percent of the market, but other colors are increasing in popularity.

Among the points to consider when purchasing poinsettia for the holidays include the size and number of the colored leaves. These are referred to as bracts. Bracts should be large and extend over the lower green leaves. The number and size of bracts usually dictate plant price. A premium quality poinsettia usually has at least six bracts and should have more. Also inspect the lower green leaves on poinsettias prior to purchase. These should have good appearance and extend over the rim of the pot. Drooping leaves may be an indication of problems. Check for insects, primarily white flies, underneath the lower leaves. The most important observation that can be made before purchasing a poinsettia is inspection of the green flower parts (cyathia) in the center of the bracts. These flower parts are an indicator of display life. Plants having large cyathia that are showing yellow pollen and sap will have the least amount of display life left, while plants with smaller cyathia, little to no pollen and no sap will have the longest display life. A poinsettia should easily last for 4?6 weeks in the home interior if proper care is provided.
To prolong the beauty and health of poinsettias once they are in the home, proper care is essential. Although poinsettias do not become acclimated to interior settings as well as most foliage plants, it is easy to be successful. First, select a location that receives some sunlight — interior hallways are a poor location. It is also very important to avoid exposing the plant to sudden temperature changes — this would be a problem if the poinsettia was placed near a ventilation system or in a drafty spot near a doorway. Temperatures found in most homes are acceptable. Ideally, provide 70 to 75 degree F. days and 62 to 65 degree F. nights.
Watering is the key to success. NEVER allow the soilless medium in which the plant is being grown to dry out thoroughly causing the plant to wilt. To avoid this, water DAILY by adding ice cubes DAILY to poinsettias as previously described. Ice cubes should be evenly distributed DAILY around the surface of the pot in which the plant is growing. The ice cubes melt slowly providing uniform wetting of the planting medium. Since ice cubes are added DAILY, the medium never dries and the plant never experiences a fatal wilt and loss of leaves. Watering with ice cubes also avoids water or mist on the colored bracts and or foliage. Also, adding the small amount of water contained in the ice cube avoids soaking the root system. Letting the poinsettia stand in water for more than 30 minutes to an hour can cause root damage resulting in defoliation and/or plant death.
For those who cannot part with their poinsettias after the holidays, plants can be planted outdoors in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Cut the plant back halfway and select a sunny, well-drained location isolated from north winds and frost pockets. Poinsettias placed on the south side of the house usually will do well. Poinsettias can be kept bushy and compact when growing in the landscape or a container by pinching the top inch from new shoots when these shoots reach 5 to 6 inches long. These branches will then produce several laterals at each place where the pinching is done. In order for poinsettias to bloom and develop foliage color, do not pinch after late August/early September.

Place the plant in an area where it will receive as much indirect light as possible and do not place it in a draft. Should your poinsettia be wrapped in foil, punch a hole in the bottom to provide good drainage and place pot in a saucer. An easy way to water poinsettias is to set it in the sink, soak it, and at the same time, remove yellowed foliage off the bottom of the plant. Check your poinsettia every other day to every third day, depending on light. Another way to water is placing ice cubes on the soil daily to maintain even moisture through the season. The amount of ice cubes depends on the pot size. For small 4 inch- 2-3 cubes daily. For 6 inch use 3-5 cubes and for larger pots use a few more. Double check the moisture occasionally with your finger or moisture meter. Most enjoy the poinsettia for the holidays and then move on to other spring blooming plants in January and February. If, on the other hand, you want to grow it for your garden, in March , cut your plant back short and either repot or plant it in the ground in a sunny protected area. With a few simple steps, your poinsettia will give you blooms year after year.

Poinsettias make an excellent holiday gift because they work so well in every holiday decorating opportunity. With a shiny decorative wrap around the pot, a large ribbon, or a holiday themed planter, a live poinsettia plant will assure your welcome to any holiday event. They bring cheer to every occasion; the dinner party, the office, the church group and even the dorm room.

Poinsettias require proper selection and care. The red flowering poinsettia is by far the most popular flowering potted plant for the Christmas season. White, pink, and variegated white and pink are also available. Many new, long lasting varieties of poinsettias are now available. If properly cared for, they may last a month or more after Christmas.

Check your poinsettia daily and follow these tips:

  • Water your poinsettia frequently but don’t drown it. Make sure soil remains moist, but do not allow water to remain beneath the pot in the saucer or wrapping. Too much water will cause the roots to rot, and the plant will deteriorate. One easy way to water the potting mix in which the plants are growing without flooding the living room is to use ice cubes when applying moisture, i.e.,:
  • Put 4 ice cubes (64 ml of water) per day per quart-size or 6 1/2-inch pot which is the most common size sold;
  • Put eight ice cubes (128 ml of water) per day per 8-inch pot;
  • Put twelve ice cubes (192 ml of water) per day per larger, 10-inch pot.
  • Ice cube size varies; the recommendations given are for ice cubes for which 20 melted cubes will produce 320 ml of water as measured by a standard measuring cup used for cooking.
  • Remember that this watering technique provides supplemental watering only. If the plant wilts or the potting mix in which it is growing feels dry, rehydrate the mix by soaking (floating) the pot in water (kitchen sink, clean toilet, bucket) until the roots are completely saturated – then begin the daily ice cube watering schedule again. Poinsettias are closely related to many desert plants. Their first response to dry conditions is to drop their leaves in order to cut down water loss. Plants should be checked weekly for moisture content of the potting medium, i.e., if moist, then continue the ice cube regiment; if not, water (soak) the roots.

  1. Keep the plant out of drafts. Excessively hot, dry air from heating ducts will reduce the life of the plant. Also avoid cold drafts. Poinsettias are semitropical, and cannot tolerate cold temperatures or rapid temperature changes. Temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees are ideal.
  2. Place the plant in good light, but not direct sun.
  3. And finally, after blooming, discard or begin preparing the plant to bloom again next year.
  4. Poinsettias are perhaps the most difficult flowering potted plants to rebloom indoors. Fortunately in South Texas, poinsettias can be planted directly out-of-doors in the spring after the danger of frost is past. If placed in a protected area where early fall frost won’t harm it, they will make beautiful plants for the next holiday season. Fertilize as with any annual flowering plant during the growing season.
  5. Make sure that the outdoor poinsettia receives only natural sunlight. Any additional light from yard and street lights may inhibit coloring. Keep pinching out the tips of the new growth once a month so the plant will bush out. Do no pinching after August 15th. The plant should flower right on time if these procedures are followed.

Watering Christmas Poinsettias

Holiday cheer. Poinsettia is perhaps the most common plant gift of the Christmas season. It is colorful, traditional and looks like it should be tough to withstand any conditions in the home. Many recipients assume that it will last for months in the home environment. Cared-for properly and the poinsettia will give weeks of color and pleasure to its owner.

But, it can be challenging to grow poinsettias in the home under normal house conditions. Many homes are kept too hot, causing the air to dry out and leaves to drop. Occasionally the plant was fertilized in the greenhouse only minimally. Or the plant may have gotten a draft in the store where it was sold. If the plant already had leaves with a yellowish cast to them when you received it, then they will not last long into the winter. Often the red, white or pink bracts (often thought of as the flower itself) will stay on the plant longer than the green leaves.

Perhaps the most important thing you need to care about is proper watering. The plant was often grown in a greenhouse in its pot, with a sophisticated watering system or trained greenhouse workers who watered it properly. Then it was sent off to the retail market for sale.

If it stayed at the retail market more than a few days, it probably got watered a little less than perfectly. It was the holiday sales season, with busy shopkeeper, afterall. Then it was sold and the first thing they probably did was wrap colorful foil around the pot to make it more attractive as a gift. Then the problem really began.

Every time after that when it was watered, the excess water was trapped inside that colorful foil around the pot. So the first thing you need to do to care for your holiday Christmas poinsettia is remove the foil. Set it on a plastic tray or ceramic dish to protect your furniture or sill.

Keep the soil damp but not sopping wet. The dampness should feel cool to the touch. Lift up the pot after you have watered it. Take note of the weight of the pot with freshly watered soil. The weight will get lighter as the water is absorbed by the plant roots, but there reaches a point when it gets so light weight that is noticeable. It almost feels like a feather when it is dry. At that point, too, the soil actually has changed color from the dark (almost) black color of wet soil to a medium brown color of dry soil.

You never want the soil to get to that light weight, medium brown colored soil. That would be under-watering it. And you never want the soil to always be that heavy weight, dark (almost) black colored soil. That would be over-watering it. Somewhere in between is best.

Of course, that comes with experience to know what that “in-between” feel and color is like. How do you get that experience? Get in the habit of feeling the soil every day. Once you have removed that colored foil around the pot, it will be easier to get your finger down there to feel the top of the soil. It’s takes 5 seconds of your time.

That damp feel (I call it towel-damp) should be as uniform as possible each day. Catch it before it starts going dry, but if you always have that cold, wet feel then the plant roots are so stressed with all that extra water surrounding them that they begin to go into a kind of shock. That may be when you start seeing lower leaves drop off from over-watering. They may or may not turn yellow before they drop off. You may even see the flowers and leaves drooping, looking like they are wilted. (See picture above.)

Interestingly enough, lower leaves also drop off if you let the soil get too dry. Flowers and leaves can droop when they are under-watered, too. In fact, that’s when they really are wilted. What you see (yellow leaves, dropped leaves, drooping or wilting) all looks the same to the untrained eye, but the cause could be as different as too much water or too little water. Only you will know which it is.

Whenever you do water the plant, water it thoroughly until the water drips out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. That’s what the holes are there for. Most people take the poinsettia to the kitchen sink to water it properly. Anyone who gingerly tries to water the plant with the pot sitting in its tray or dish on the living room end table will know that it is almost impossible to give the plant a thorough watering when you are more worried about spilling onto the furniture or getting the water into the pot evenly.

Now how often should you water? It would be simple to give you a formula or routine here, but I will resist. In a greenhouse, where the temperature and air movement is more controllable, the commercial grower may have a predicable schedule. But in the home, there is inconsistency. Some homes are kept warmer than others. Sometimes you move the plant to a warmer or cooler spot for display. Displaying it in a window might be different from displaying it in a dark corner of the room. Sometimes the door opens more often over the holidays putting the poinsettia in a draft. You will just have to monitor the plant for yourself and figure out how often it needs water — by touching the soil, color observation and how heavy the pot feels. You

are probably saying right about now that you can’t win. But you can. The majority of poinsettia caretakers at home do get it right. They do win the game of proper watering. Not too wet, not too dry, just right in-between. Enjoy.

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