Ask a Question forum: Poinsettia hibernation

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Mar 13, 2017 3:48 AM CST

I have a mini poinsettia I purchased last Christmas (Dec 2016) and I've managed to keep it alive till now. I've read that poinsettias start hibernating in April, but what does that truly mean? Does it include them dropping all their leaves? Because mine just did and I think I might be in a state of shock. I mean, I did forget to water it about three days ago and most leaves had shrivelled up, but now they've all fallen off... Usually when I forget to water it (happens rarely), I give it some water and it'd be fine again but now it's clearly not if it's losing all its leaves! Please help!

Attached are photos of my poinsettia now and the two other major leaves which it has just dropped.

Thumb of 2017-03-13/visitor/fbfe96

Thumb of 2017-03-13/gohsherlyn/64c3f7

Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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Mar 13, 2017 8:57 AM CST
Hi and welcome. Since the stem is still green, the plant is still alive. I would try (gently) sliding it out of the pot, to have a look at the roots. Does that little pot have a drain hole? If not I fear you'll find soggy, rotted roots. In that case, stand the plant on a pad of paper towels or something else absorbent, then when it's stopped wicking water out of the root ball, re-pot in a proper pot with new potting soil and drain holes in the pot. It may or may not recover, depending upon how many healthy roots it still has.

If it does have drainage, you may find that the root ball has dried out to the point of dessication, and all you'll need to do is loosen up the soil, and soak the whole root ball in a bowl of room temperature water for an hour or so. This happens sometimes with indoor plants, where you think you're watering but most of the water just races through, and doesn't soak into the dessicated soil. Once you get the root ball moistened again, you should start seeing new growth in a week or two.

Poinsettias keep their leaves year 'round here. So as far as "going dormant" that might just mean that after blooming, you don't see much growth for a month or two. But if you put it outside for the summer you should see new growth coming along that will make the new colorful bracts and flowers next winter.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Mar 15, 2017 6:29 PM CST
Hi Sherlyn,

Some animals hibernate and some plants go dormant. Poinsettias do neither.

After a Poinsettia has finished flowering, it is best to prune it back to a height of a few inches, It is okay if that means all the leaves are removed. As long as you provide lots of good sunlight and water properly, then new green shoots will emerge and fill out the plant. The foliage growth will continue through the spring and summer. Starting in the fall, to set flowers and bracts, the plant needs 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of total dark every day for 8 weeks. You continue to water normally during that period of time. That is not dormancy, but it is a special requirement of Poinsettias if you want them to bloom again.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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