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 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 the 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, the 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.
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