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When the cold season is just around the corner, the Christmas trees slowly move in and the first snow falls, it's time for the poinsettia in your own four walls. The decorative plants are among the most popular plants over the winter, as they provide attractive accents in the gray with their intensely colored foliage. If the leaves on the poinsettia curl up, something is wrong with the care and protective measures must follow.
Rolled up leaves on the poinsettia
Since the poinsettia is a tropical plant native to Central and South America, it is not really used to local conditions. For this reason, numerous care errors can occur that have a negative effect on the health of the spurge family (bot. Euphorbiaceae). Leaf curling is always a sign of a problem as Euphorbia pulcherrima tries to conserve enough energy to sustain the main shoot. If the trunk perishes, the plant will follow a short time later and you will have to get a new one. That is why you need to immediately provide “first aid” if the following symptoms appear:
- curled leaves
- discolored leaves
- leaves weaken
Since curled poinsettia leaves lead to, or arise from, one of the above symptoms in most cases, you need to be aware of all of them. They are always related to each other and for this reason must not be ignored. Once you've spotted the above symptoms, consider one of the six possible causes below and take the necessary action to save your poinsettia. The help is essential for the survival of the plant.
tip: Even if your poinsettia is beyond salvage, you can propagate it by taking a few cuttings. These root very easily and so you can keep your former plant with little effort after you have pulled young poinsettia from the cuttings.
Waterlogging is one of the biggest problems when keeping a poinsettia, as the plants do not tolerate wet feet in any form. Because excess moisture quickly leads to root rot, it's important to be careful not to overwater or overwater your specimen. This problem is particularly common in winter, when it is generally cooler and overwatering is easy. You can recognize waterlogging in poinsettias not only from the rolled-up leaves, but also from the following symptoms:
- yellowish leaves
- fall off
- wet substrate
- soft stem
While yellowed and curled leaves on the poinsettia can in many cases be saved soon enough, a stem that is too soft is the death sentence for the plant. In this case, the roots are mostly dead and rotten, which can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. One of the most common causes, besides watering too often or too much, is a lack of drainage or drainage holes in the pot. The following measures will help you to prevent the upcoming root rot:
- First, check the substrate. If this is clearly too wet, you should then remove the plant from the pot and remove the soil from the roots. If these are rotten, moldy or even rotten, you have to be quick so that this condition cannot progress any further.
- With disinfected, sharp scissors or a comparable knife, remove the affected roots and cut back the shoots by a third, in severe cases even by two. You should not dispose of the removed plant parts on the compost due to the toxins contained in the poinsettia.
- Then repot the plant, preferably in a pot with drainage holes, so that you can pour away excess water after watering. After repotting, wait until the top layer of the substrate has dried before watering again.
This helps the plant to recover and re-establish itself in the fresh substrate without getting its feet wet again.
As an alternative to this method, you can simply stop watering for a while in the early stages of waterlogging. If the trunk isn't soft yet, just wait for the top layer to dry. In many cases, this is sufficient to prevent waterlogging. Repotting is really only necessary if the poinsettia looks badly battered and does not get well even after drying.
tip: When handling your Euphorbia pulcherrima, be careful of the milky sap, which can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Children, pets and allergy sufferers are particularly at risk, and eating parts of the plant can lead to symptoms.
Drafts are another problem that can cause curled leaves on the poinsettia. Poinsettias are one of the sensitive plants when it comes to drafts and the spurge plants should be protected from them as much as possible. It doesn't matter whether your poinsettia is in a cold or warm draft, the plants don't tolerate any of it. Long standing times in the train are particularly stressful for the plants, so you should pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Foliage curls up
- Poinsettia leaves droop
- fall off
Above all, the combination of curled and weak foliage is a warning sign for you. If this is the case, be sure to check whether your Euphorbia pulcherrima is on the train or not. In particular, check the windows and doors that are opened frequently. This is particularly important during the cold season, as drafts are much stronger at this time. Once it has been determined that the poinsettia is on the train, select a new location that is protected from it. After that, the plant should recover if the rest of the care is right.
lack of water
In addition to waterlogging, lack of water is also a major problem. Although wet feet are much more dangerous for the plant, prolonged drought can cause the foliage to yellow over time. This yellowing starts from the stems and then the leaves curl up and begin to wither, eventually dropping off in the lower third of the plant. If so, you should do the following:
- Check substrate for dryness
- pour carefully
- Use hand or lukewarm water
- additionally spray foliage
- don't catch buds
Check over the next few days to see if the plant recovers. But don't increase the watering, you don't want to flood the plant. If the above methods don't help much, you should check the humidity in the room. If this is too low, you should either use a humidifier or place a bowl of water next to the plant. In this way, the humidity is slowly increased to allow the poinsettia to recover. This is a typical measure in winter when it is too dry in the room due to the heating air.
Cold is devastating for Euphorbia pulcherrima and the leaves curl up very quickly if it is too cold. In addition, these fall off and the entire plant can die quickly. The following temperatures should be observed:
- ideal: 20°C to 22°C
- minimum temperature: 15°C
- maximum temperature: 24°C
If a location that is too cold or a shivering apartment is the reason for the curled leaves on the poinsettia, you should adjust the temperature as soon as possible.
lack of light
The location is not only important in terms of temperature and drafts, but the available light. A lack of light is not recommended, as the poinsettia is a sun worshiper that needs sunny to shady locations. The following characteristics will help you to find the right place in the house throughout the year:
- Luminous intensity: 2,000 lux to 3,000 lux
- weakened midday sun
- East or west window ideal
- Avoid north windows
- South window with protection
If it's too dark for you in winter or if your entire apartment faces north, you should get a plant lamp. In this way you ensure sufficient light.
Make sure the air in your home is always fresh, as the poinsettia is very sensitive to air pollution. The following dirt causes the leaves to curl up and then fall off:
- cigarette smoke
- exhaust gases
Unventilated rooms also cause this problem. So make sure you have enough fresh air.
tip: Another variant of this cause is the long-term storage of the poinsettia after purchase in the plastic packaging. In this, increased amounts of the already mentioned ethylene accumulate, which can make things difficult for the plant.