Poinsettia plants are very popular to display during the winter months because of how well the colors match the holiday spirit. If you’re taking care of one or two poinsettia plants, then you likely want them to stay healthy so that you can enjoy them all season long.
This is why it can be so disconcerting when you find out that your poinsettia is wilting. If your poinsettia plant appears to be dying, then you’re likely going to wonder exactly what went wrong.
There are several things that could have happened that might have led to problems with your poinsettia plant. If you can recognize these issues, then you might be able to turn things around or at least do a better job of raising a poinsettia plant next time.
Keep reading to learn about the things that can cause poinsettia plants to wilt and die. Once you know more about what problems need to be avoided, it’ll be easier to care for poinsettias.
1 – Overwatering
You might already know this if you take care of other plants, but watering a plant too much is a bad thing. It is important to ensure that plants get enough water, but watering a poinsettia too much can cause many problems.
When you water a poinsettia more than you’re supposed to, it’s going to start wilting. If you keep watering the plant more than necessary, then you might even wind up killing the plant entirely.
What happens when you water your poinsettia excessively is known as root rot. The poinsettia won’t be able to keep up with all of the water, and the roots are going to start to become mushy and rot away.
You should be able to tell if a poinsettia is experiencing root rot or not based on the condition of the roots. If you see that the roots are mushy and look like they’re rotting, then it’s likely that the plant is too far gone to save it.
If root rot has not yet occurred, then you can turn things around by watering the plant properly. You need to stop watering the poinsettia so that it can dry out.
It’s possible to get a poinsettia back into a healthy state when it’s wilting due to watering issues. You’ll just have to be more mindful of checking the soil before you water it.
The soil should be dry before you decide to water it again. Just get into the habit of checking the soil with your fingers before you water the plant and you should be fine moving forward.
2 – Drainage Issues
Drainage issues should also be briefly mentioned since they can contribute to over-watering problems. If your poinsettia plant isn’t able to drain properly, then it’s not going to have an easy time drying out.
Sometimes this can happen when you pot a poinsettia plant in a pot that doesn’t have good drainage holes. You might need to pot the plant in a better pot that has more drainage holes to turn things around.
Many people also make the mistake of keeping the foil on the pot that the poinsettia came in. You know that poinsettia plants are associated with the wintertime holidays, and this means that they’re often sold with pots that have a decorative foil covering.
This foil can prevent the plants from draining properly after they have been watered. You’re supposed to remove the foil, but some people keep it on because they think that the foil is pretty.
Ensure that you remove the foil from the pot so that the plant can drain properly. Check to see if the pot has decent drainage holes as well because you might need a better pot for the plant.
It’s also beneficial to ensure that you use good soil for your poinsettia. Some types of soil are better at draining than others, and this means that your plant will have an easier time drying out between watering sessions.
The store that sold you the poinsettia might not have potted it using good soil, and this means that changing things out might help the plant. You should only bother to change the soil if the poinsettia seems to be struggling, though.
A good type of soil to use for a poinsettia plant will be peat-based potting soil. This type of soil drains really well and it’s also quite easy to work with.
3 – Not Watering Enough
Of course, you can kill a poinsettia plant by not watering it enough. If you go a long time without watering a poinsettia plant, then it’s going to start to wither away.
You’ll see the same type of wilting when you don’t water a poinsettia that you see when it has been watered too much. The difference is that the plant will be incredibly dry and light as a feather due to not having enough water to sustain itself.
If you want the poinsettia plant to thrive, then you should try to keep the soil slightly moist. When the soil starts to get dry, you’re going to know that it’s safe to give the poinsettia some water.
You just need to avoid making the soil soggy or watering it to the point where the poinsettia starts dripping. So long as you don’t go overboard, it’s not going to be hard to water this plant and keep it healthy.
Checking the soil daily is going to be a good idea since how often it needs to be watered will vary based on weather conditions. Potting soil dries out a bit faster when plants are kept in a warm indoor environment, and this might mean that you’ll need to water it more often so long as you’ve confirmed that the plant needs to be watered.
4 – Sunlight Issues
Sunlight issues could kill a poinsettia over time as well. Poinsettias like to receive six to eight hours of sun each day, and they aren’t going to do too well with less sunlight than that.
If you keep the poinsettia in a very dark room, then it’s going to die eventually. Even if you give the poinsettia some sun, it’s going to have issues if it isn’t getting quite enough.
A poinsettia might start wilting and will look like it’s dying if it’s not getting enough sunlight. Thankfully, you can turn things around by giving the poinsettia enough sunlight so long as the plant isn’t too far gone.
Bright indirect light is what poinsettias crave, and this means that placing them near a sunny window should work quite nicely. Try to do this for six to eight hours each day and the plant should perk up nicely.
People have had decent results when growing poinsettias in partial shade as well. Direct sun is going to be too much, though, as it can cause the poinsettia’s leaves to burn due to being too harsh.
5 – Exposure to Cold Weather
Exposure to cold weather can kill a poinsettia faster than you might expect. These plants really don’t like the cold, and you’re going to want to keep them indoors where they can thrive.
It’s possible that cold things in your house could harm the plant, too. For example, placing a poinsettia too close to a drafty window or an air conditioning unit could be problematic.
Cold exposure shocks poinsettias and it causes their leaves to shrivel up and die. You’ll want to be mindful of where your poinsettia is located when you’re caring for it indoors and it’s cold outside.
Ideally, the poinsettia should be placed in a room that stays between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. If the temperature drops a little below that during the night, then that shouldn’t harm the plant.
So long as you’re being very careful where you place a poinsettia plant indoors, it’s going to be easy to keep cold exposure from killing it. Just keep the plant in a temperature-controlled environment while being mindful of drafty windows, doors, and air vents.
6 – Lack of Humidity
Since poinsettia plants are so popular during the winter months, it’s important to note that humidity issues can be problematic for these plants. During the wintertime, many areas are going to have low humidity levels.
This can harm poinsettias since they’re going to need a bit more humidity to thrive. If your home gets overly dry during the wintertime, then that could contribute to the poinsettia wilting and dying.
To remedy this, it’s going to be wise to use a humidifier or some other method to raise the humidity level in your home. Some people have had success simply misting their poinsettia plants with water to keep their humidity where it needs to be during dry months.
It would be substantially easier to buy a small humidifier for the room that you keep your poinsettia plants in, though. This could also benefit other houseplants that do better with high humidity levels.
You’ll also find it nice to have a bit more humidity in your home during the winter for personal reasons. Some people invest in larger humidifiers for health reasons, and it really can make a big difference when your home is prone to being incredibly dry during the winter.
7 – Fungal Diseases
The most concerning problem that a poinsettia can have involves fungal diseases. Fungal diseases can very easily kill poinsettia plants, and you’re going to want to do your best to keep this from happening.
For the most part, a fungal disease is not something that a poinsettia plant can come back from. You’re generally going to want to remove the plant and discard it to keep it from spreading the fungal issue to any other plants.
Fungal diseases can form when the right conditions are met. Fungi thrive in warm and moist conditions, and it isn’t always easy to determine how a plant becomes infected.
To try to save the plant, you’re going to need to remove infected sections of the plant and then pot the remaining sections into a new pot with uninfected soil. This doesn’t always work, and sometimes it’s easier to just start anew with another poinsettia plant.
Recognizing fungal disease in poinsettia plants won’t be all that difficult. Their stems will get dark and become discolored over time, and you’re also going to notice foliage damage.
Depending on what type of fungal disease is occurring, you might see the leaves start to curl up and die. Fungal disease is a very serious problem that might very well spell the end for your poinsettia plant.
You can try to keep this from happening by avoiding overwatering your poinsettia plant. It’s also better to keep humidity levels in the right range without going too high since fungi will thrive in very humid environments.
Most people who are taking care of poinsettia plants indoors will be able to keep the conditions right without having to worry about fungal infections. Even so, it’s good to be mindful that this can happen so that you can take steps to prevent it.
Caring for poinsettia plants won’t be all that difficult when you know what you’re doing. It’s just important to be careful about certain issues such as cold exposure and watering the plant right.
If your poinsettia plant appears to be dying, then there is a good chance that you can turn things around. If you have been watering the plant improperly, then starting to water it the right way might be all that you need to do to get it to become healthy again.
Poinsettias need enough water and sunlight to thrive, but overexposure can be a bad thing as well. It’s just about understanding the basic care requirements for the plant so that you can make the proper choices.
Over time, you’re going to find caring for poinsettia plants to be a lot easier. You’ll know what to do and you won’t have any problems checking the soil before watering the plant and giving it enough sun each day.
Hopefully, you aren’t having to deal with more complex issues such as fungal diseases. This is something that you might not be able to save your poinsettia plant from, but it is possible to try.
Use the knowledge that you gained to take care of your poinsettia to the best of your ability. You’ll be able to enjoy this lovely plant for a longer period of time.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.