QUESTION: Why are all the leaves falling off my poinsettia? I’m not sure they are going to make it through the season. -Lynn S.
ANSWER: There are several reasons why a poinsettia plant might start dropping its leaves. The most probable cause is that it was exposed to sudden changes in temperature. If your poinsettia was in a location that experiences frequent cold drafts, or is kept in an especially cold or dry environment, it probably dropped its leaves due to temperature shock. Poinsettias also tend to drop their leaves as a distress call when they are in need of hydration and have gone without water for a long period.
Because of their sensitivity to temperature fluctuations, carefully wrap your poinsettias up before transporting them. If you are growing poinsettias indoors, put them in a location where they will receive bright light for at least six hours per day. Keep the soil around your poinsettia plants evenly moist at all times and never let it completely dry out. Keep your poinsettias in a room that stays between 65 and 70 degrees.
Poinsettias are a lovely holiday decorative plant which became a popular fixture of christmas decor due to their bright red leaves and lovely dark green foliage. Though poinsettias often get mislabeled as toxic, they are perfectly safe for pets and small children. If ingested, the worst thing that could happen is a bit of nausea and an upset stomach. More severe symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea only occur when a large amount of the plant is ingested, and who could even conceive of eating a large amount of poinsettia? In fact, the ancient Aztecs used to cultivate poinsettias for use in traditional medicine. The only toxic element of the plant is a white sap that is secreted around the stems and foliage of the plant. The sap can cause an upset stomach if ingested and can irritate the skin when touched, so be sure to wear a pair of gardening gloves when cultivating or repotting your poinsettia plants.
Since the early 1800’s, the plant has grown in popularity as a seasonal houseplant. Over 70 million poinsettias are brought home by shoppers during a six week period to decorate the house around Christmas time. If you are one of the many people who enjoy having a poinsettia or two around the house during the holiday season, check back here for any questions that may arise about poinsettia care.