Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by Tony Manhart
Poinsettias are a beautiful plant that hails from Mexico. The tropical plant is best known for its bright colors, beautiful foliage, and the ability to grow in extreme weather. Also known as the Christmas Flower in North America, the poinsettia is actually considered a shrub or small tree, with branches and broad flowers that stand out no matter the situation. In fact, the plant’s stunning red flowers and green leaves are what made it known as the Christmas Flower in the first place.
Although simple and beautiful, the poinsettia can pose a complex challenge to novice gardeners attempting to grow one in the comfort of their homes. One of the chief questions is: How often should you water poinsettias? It is possible too much and too little, so it’s important to find a balance to keep the plant happy. This guide answers the question of just when you should be watering your poinsettias, and how to go about doing it.
How Often Should You Water Poinsettias?
The poinsettia enjoys wide cultivation, being grown by gardeners in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, Rwanda, Malta, and numerous other countries. A chief element in all of its successful locations is the presence of a tropical climate or an area that simulates the hot, wet environment that the poinsettia is accustomed to. This environment is exactly what gardeners should try to recreate in their homes because while the poinsettia is the Christmas Flower, it craves the heat rather than snow.
How Much Water Do Poinsettias Need?
Like many other plants, poinsettias require a careful balance. They are typically planted in loose, porous soil designed to be well-draining. This means the soil does not hold a lot of moisture, allowing the roots to absorb what they need without becoming overloaded with moisture. To take care of poinsettias, you want to keep the soil damp, but not soaked or dry.
If you are concerned that your poinsettia needs watering, feel the top layer of the soil. If it is completely dry, you can water the plant. If it is still wet, leave it be. If you have supplied too much water and the soil has become waterlogged, try to drain it and transfer the poinsettia to a container with fresh soil.
How to Water
Watering poinsettias can be tricky if you are not used to handling flowers that have such broad petals and leaves. It can be difficult to check the soil, but also hard to ensure enough water reaches the dirt and can transfer to the roots. If you’ve purchased your poinsettia already partially grown from a store or greenhouse, be sure to transfer the plant to another container that has drainage holes in the bottom. These holes will be essential to recreating the porous soil of the poinsettia’s natural territory.
Once you have the flower in the proper pot, you can focus on watering correctly. Depending on the size of your poinsettia, you can choose to supply water directly from the kitchen sink or use a watering can with a long, narrow spout.
When using the kitchen sink, keep the water semi-cold but not icy. Gently lift the foliage of the poinsettia and allow the water to run from the faucet in a stream into the soil. Move the poinsettia around to cover every part of the pot, and wait until liquid starts to exit from the drainage holes. Turn the water off and then allow the poinsettia to drain until no more water is dripping from the bottom of your pot.
If you have a large poinsettia, fill a watering can with water that is neither too warm nor too cold. Use a long spout to get underneath the foliage and make sure all parts of the soil receive adequate hydration. The pot will need to drain, so make sure there is a space underneath the bottom for the excess liquid to filter out and get away from the soil and roots.
As a note: Always remove any decorative foil that is surrounding the pot upon purchase. Many locations like to dress up the poinsettia by wrapping it in colorful material, but this foil can trap excess liquid and lead to poor growth, mold, and eventual death.
Are Poinsettias Toxic?
There is a common myth that circulates amongst gardeners that poinsettia is an extremely toxic plant to keep around the house. However, this is false. The poinsettia developed a negative reputation after an incident in 1919 when a boy was taken to the hospital after consuming part of the plant.
Although parts of the poinsettia are toxic, a kid weighing 50 lbs. would need to eat over 500 leaves to become sick. Instead, a person is more likely to have an allergic reaction to the plant pollen or from coming into contact with the leaves. In other words, poinsettia is perfectly safe to grow and keep around a home.
Do Poinsettias Need to Be Hot?
Because poinsettias come from a tropical climate, many gardeners assume the flowers need to be kept in a hot environment. According to experts, the poinsettia does not require any special temperature adjustments but does need to be kept in sunlight for the majority of the day to be satisfied. If you are concerned about your flowers receiving enough daylight during the winter months, consider investing in an ultraviolet bulb to stimulate growth and simulate long days in the sun.
The poinsettia makes a wonderful addition to any home. Although they are often associated with Christmas and the winter holidays, these tropical flowers thrive when left in the sun for the majority of the day and are given adequate water. To properly water your plant, remember to keep the poinsettia in porous soil with a self-draining pot so moisture does not build up. The poinsettia will thank you by offering its crimson blooms every day of the year. Just remember to adequately soak the soil, and avoid the temptation to provide too much exposure to UV radiation.
What is the best way to water poinsettias?
Poinsettias are susceptible to dryness, especially during winter. That’s why it is important to water the plant regularly.
The best way to water a poinsettia is by using a gentle spray from the faucet. Make sure that you don’t run the water too hard as this can damage the plant. This is because it simulates rain which the plant needs for proper growth. Also you can water your poinsettia with a misting bottle.
Can you overwater a poinsettia?
Of course you can! It may be a good idea to keep your poinsettia in a shallow bowl of water as it will not be able to get enough oxygen.
Poinsettias are known for their vibrant red and green colors. But they also require plenty of water to thrive, so you should make sure to always keep them in a fresh, moist potting soil that is never allowed to dry out completely.
While some people claim the plant needs more than 12 hours of water per week, there is no scientific evidence that they need this much water.
Do poinsettias need sunlight?
All in all, water poinsettias need a fair amount of light in order to grow and flourish. When they don’t get enough light, their leaves will turn brown and the flowers will die if not for some extra sunlight. On the other hand, when these plants are placed next to a window or next to another plant with plenty of light, they thrive beautifully.
Water poinsettias can be grown in cold weather. They need to have a light source during the day and some shade during the night.
Try placing a light source nearby.
Do you water poinsettias from top or bottom?
Watering your poinsettia from top or bottom can have a dramatic impact on the plant’s growth, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to decide which method is best for your plant.
Whether you water your poinsettia from top or bottom depends on where the pot is planted. If it's in a hanging basket and it receives direct sunlight all day, watering from top would be best. If the pot your poinsettia is in has any type of overhang that blocks direct sunlight, watering from bottom would be better.
Watering from top would also be best if you're growing plants in containers and there's no drainage hole near where you're about to water.
How much water does a poinsettia need?
A poinsettia typically needs about one inch of water each day. However, some plants require more than others. As a general rule, the plant should be able to sit in at least two inches of water because this is how much evaporates from the soil per day.
This is important because if you let your poinsettia dry out it will die and won't bloom for Christmas again next year.
Can I put my poinsettia outside?
The answer to this question is yes. Poinsettias need to be watered on a daily basis and should not be exposed to direct sunlight. They can survive if they are placed in the right environment such as inside or on a windowsill.
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Tony Manhart is a passionate gardener who has been tending to gardens for over 20 years. He takes pride in creating beautiful outdoor spaces with plants, trees, and shrubs that can thrive in any environment. He loves to share his knowledge with others and has taught classes on gardening basics and advanced techniques. He is committed to sustainability, using natural and organic methods to create and maintain gardens. He also works with local organizations to create green spaces for communities. When he’s not gardening, Tony enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with his family.