How Not To Have A Puny Poinsettia

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5min 29sec
Michelle P. Fulcher/CPR News
The CPR newsroom poinsettia has seen better days and didn’t quite make it to Christmas, Dec. 23, 2019.

Are you loving your holiday poinsettia to death? 

If these sentinels of the holidays are part of your decor, you may have found they’re a bit high maintenance. Without just the right care those big, shiny, bushy leaves (officially called bracts) can droop or drop off — not the right message for the season, for sure.

Denver Botanic Gardens Horticulturist Nick Giaquinto says the problem is often simple: people over-water their poinsettia.

“Let the poinsettia tell you what it needs,” he says. Most often, the plant doesn’t need water until its soil is dry. Another common error? Putting the plant in the dark, or in direct sunlight. Poinsettias, he says, want indirect light to keep them happy.

Here's more advice from the Colorado State University Extension:

  • Ideal temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep the plant in indirect, natural light at least six hours a day.
  • To prolong color, keep plants out of traffic areas and protect from cold drafts or excessive heat.
  • When the poinsettia is dry, water it until water runs out the drainage hole. (BTW, make sure there’s a drainage hole cut in wrapping paper or pot.) Do not allow the plant to sit in standing water.
  • Plants with pale green, yellow or fallen leaves usually have a root disease problem, have been overwatered, have been dry for too long or didn’t get enough fertilizer.
  • To maintain green foliage and promote new growth after the holidays, apply a balanced, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month.