WHY IS MY POINSETTIA DROPPING ITS LEAVES?




Poinsettias - Euphorbia pulcherrima, are a gorgeous addition to the Christmas table and as part of the seasonal floral decoration in general. Native to the tropical forests of Mexico and Guatemala, the plant's association with Christmas began in the 16th-century. Franciscan friars believed that the star-shaped leaf pattern symbolized the Star of Bethlehem, while the red coloured bracts represented the blood sacrifice of Jesus while he was on the cross.

When you take a tropical plant such as the poinsettia and expose it to the freezing temperatures of an English winter it is not surprising that some physical damage will occur as a result of environmental stress. For poinsettias, the typical reaction is to drop its leaves. Growers, transportation and retailers all make an effort to maintain suitable temperatures, although this is not always achieved. That being said, it is not only extremes of temperature that can cause this characteristic problem.

What causes leaf drop in poinsettias

Poinsettia leaf drop - http://www.iva.de/profil-online/haus-garten/
1. As previously mentioned, poinsettias will be prone to leaf drop if they become chilled. This typically happens when they has been unloaded for delivery and then left outside, or if a plant is placed in the boot of a car during cold to freezing temperatures. Poinsettias will need a minimum temperature of 13-15°C (55-59°F).

2. Assuming that the plants are in good condition when purchased, make sure that they are well wrapped before leaving the store and always transport inside the passenger area of the car and not the boot. Avoid buying from street stands or from outside retailers, and with regards to wrapping cover the plant right around the top of the foliage, or put it in a plastic bag so that it is completely protected.

3. An obvious one perhaps but once home do not place your poinsettia on a cold windowsill. Equally, do not place next to a strong heat source such as a radiator.

4. Be aware that poinsettias will naturally drop some leaves once flowering has finished. The ornamental red bracts are not true flowers but are instead a rosette of specialised leaves. If you look closely in the centre of the bracts the true flowers can be viewed. The flowers should be in tight bud when purchased to ensure the plant remains in good condition for as long as possible.

5. Watering can also be a factor in leaf drop. As poinsettias are from the genus Euphorbia (well known for its drought tolerant species), water sparingly as overwatering can easily damage plants roots. This will again trigger the poinsettia to drop its leaves. As a rule of thumb, only water poinsettias when the surface of the compost has begun to dry out. Do not allow the compost to dry out completely.

6. Avoid placing in a draught, and in particular cold draughts.

For related articles click onto the following links:
How to Care for Poinsettias
HOW TO GROW POINSETTIAS
MERRY CHRISTMAS - FROM WHERE I LIVE
POINSETTIA PESTS AND DISEASES
THE CHRISTMAS ROSE - Helleborus niger
THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS
WHY IS MY POINSETTIA DROPPING ITS LEAVES?



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