The Q&A Archives: Wilting Leaves On Pointsettia

Question: I got my first pointsettia a few weeks before christmas. I kept it moist and
fed it often. Over the last 3 days all of the leaves except the very top red ones
are curled and wilted. I repotted it in better soil and fed it some more.
Can it be saved?

Answer: Unfortunately, it sounds like your poinsettia is having a hard time adjusting to life outside the greenhouse. Leaf drop can be related to temperatures that are too cold or drafty, to overwatering, to underwatering, and to pests. Since you have been watering often, it is possible that you have overwatered the plant. Repotting can also cause root injury and may result in overwatering if the pot is too large for the rootball. Pests are occasionally a problem on these plants, and they can certainly cause the leaves to wrinkle and drop.

First off, examine the plant very carefully for signs of pests. You might see webbing and a yellow stippling on the leaves indicating spider mites or you might see tiny white flies which are the pest whitefly. These can be treated with insecticidal soap, but can be hard to control. Since the plant is already so stressed, it may not be worth the effort and you might opt to dispose of it, especially if you have other houseplants that might be attacked by the pest.

At this point, if you find no pests, you might try placing the plant in a bright location away from drafts. Water it only enough to keep the soil slightly moist, and do not fertilize until spring. The plant needs some time to go through an adjustment period, having been pampered in the greenhouse and now being kept in household conditions. It may just "sit there" and wait for spring.

In spring when the plant seems to perk up as a result of the longer daylight, you could trim it back to about six inxhes tall and begin fertilizing again according to the package instructions. The plant should respond by growing bushy and strong once again. It will also enjoy a summer vacation outside in the fresh air.

Good luck with your plant.

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