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During Advent, the sale of poinsettias is booming. It is particularly popular at this time. Unfortunately, it usually shows up with a short lifespan. In many cases, it doesn't even survive until the Christmas holidays. Faulty care is often to blame, in which watering plays a particularly important role. The plant magazine describes how to water properly to extend the lifespan.

Importance of proper watering

Hardly any other houseplant reacts with such a rapid death as the poinsettia if it is not watered properly. As a rule, the most diverse plant species get used to the climatic conditions in their new home. The Euphorbia pulcherrima, on the other hand, shows up extremely sensitive especially with regard to the water supply if this does not correspond to the conditions in the region of origin. Many hobby gardeners and plant lovers do not know this and simply mean it too well, causing life-threatening damage to the poinsettia, as the Christmas star is also called.

Adjust casting

original weather conditions

You can significantly extend the lifespan of a Euphorbia pulcherrima, ideally for years, if you stick to the typical weather conditions in the Central American countries of origin when watering. While regular and even small or large amounts of water are common in Central Europe, the Euphorbia pulcherrima is only used to rarer, but short, heavy rain showers. This casting method is quite unusual in German-speaking areas and is therefore usually not considered, which means that a short lifespan is almost the rule.

Giving too much water on a regular basis often only leads to a lifespan of a few weeks for poinsettias. Therefore, the basic rule is to adapt the watering to the original weather conditions of the region of origin in order to achieve a significantly higher life expectancy.

Water the poinsettia correctly


In order to imitate the rain conditions in the region of origin, you should only water the poinsettia when the substrate is still minimally moist but has dried well. It copes just as badly with a completely dried out soil as with permanent heavy wetness. Above all, waterlogging lets him perish quickly.
You can easily find out when the best time is with the thumb test. This works as follows:

  • Press into the substrate surface with your thumb
  • If the thumb can be pressed in more than two centimetres, do not water
  • If the thumb can be pressed in less than two centimeters, the best time has come for watering

tip: It is better to check the moisture content of the substrate more often than not enough during the heating period. Dry heating air, combined with the rapid water absorption of the roots, can suddenly cause the soil to dry out much faster than expected. Once dried out, the death often takes its course.


Christmas stars are very thirstywhen they get water and draw it up into their roots relatively quickly. They like it best when they are soaked with water so that they can store enough water. For this reason, you should always water a poinsette generously.

Always water in one process. The irrigation water may and should even be on the surface of the earth for a short time. But then it must not be poured again under any circumstances when it has collapsed. That would be too much water.

quality of the irrigation water

The poinsettia is one Lime sensitive plant. Especially when the leaves and flowers come into contact with calcareous irrigation water, they quickly lose their brilliance and, in the worst case, their foliage too.

create drainage

drainage hole in the pot

As much as the Euphorbia pulcherrima likes a lot of irrigation water at once, it is more sensitive to it waterlogging. She does not tolerate this and should be prevented accordingly. You can achieve this by creating a drainage option, among other things. That means the poinsettia must be in a pot with a drainage hole.


We recommend placing a saucer under the pot to catch excess water.
A saucer also has the advantage that water that simply runs through can be absorbed into the roots from below. This happens, for example, when the poinsettia is potted in inferior soil or old substrate, which immediately allows the irrigation water to seep through due to a lack of water absorption. As a result, only a small amount of water remains in the soil, which could possibly be too low for an optimal water supply.

However, it is important that you at the latest after ten minutes dry the saucer so that there is no waterlogging. During this time, the roots have enough opportunity to absorb water from the plate if necessary. The soil/substrate must then have a chance to dry well before water is added again.

Misinterpretation of shedding leaves

Falling leaves on the poinsettia are often assumed to be a sign of water shortages. For this reason, many plant lovers quickly reach for the watering can when they see fallen leaves. It is usually poured vigorously in the hope of being able to compensate for the alleged water deficit. Especially with cheap offers from supermarkets or as gas station goods with uncertain origin, it is not uncommon for leaves to fall off after just a few days. In most cases, however, this is due to too much irrigation water and often also to poor substrate quality.

Therefore, when the leaves fall off, you should clean the soil/substrate with thumb test, as described above, and allow for good drying. Only then should you water again. As a rule, the poinsettia recovers quite quickly.

repotting and watering

Especially if leaves fall off shortly after purchase and the soil still feels damp, you should repot your newly acquired poinsettia into fresh, high-quality substrate. It is then only lightly watered so that the substrate settles and the roots can anchor themselves better. After that, you should only water again when the substrate has dried well. (See thumb test in the “Time” section).

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