Skip to content

Poinsettia loses leaves: 9 common causes and the appropriate measures to save the popular houseplant!

Although poinsettias are not one of the hardiest plants to grow, they will hold up well for weeks, if not months, with proper care. But when you see the leaves of your otherwise cheerful plant falling off, you need to figure out what’s causing it and what you can do to save your beloved plant from a premature demise. Poinsettia will lose leaves if it doesn’t get the proper care. Read on to learn the causes and solutions to the problem!

Poinsettia loses leaves – causes

If you see the leaves of your poinsettia fall off, you need to find out what this is due to

Poinsettias usually drop their leaves when they come under physiological stress. Usually this is due to sudden temperature changes, cold drafts or a dry environment. However, extreme thirst, overwatering, disease and pest infestation can also cause the plant to drop leaves (sometimes bracts).

1. you have kept the soil too dry

If your plant is getting extremely low water, it will likely drop its foliage and begin to wilt. The petals and leaves are the first casualties. They will go limp easily and wither before they fall off. If the soil feels bone dry, it’s pretty obvious that your poinsettia is extremely thirsty.

Solution
At this point, you should give your wilted poinsettia a good watering right away. Be sure to water thoroughly and deeply enough so that excess liquid drains out of the drainage holes. Let your plant sit on the excess water on the saucer for fifteen to twenty minutes and then pour it out. Unfortunately, if the stress has already taken its toll, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off after a few days.

2. poinsettia loses leaves because of overwatering.

If your poinsettia gets extremely low water, it will drop its foliage

You won’t believe it! Your plant reacts the same way when it gets too much water as when the soil gets too dry. The reason for the leaves falling off is a very common one. If you leave your poinsettia on “wet feet,” the roots will drown and begin to rot. As a result, the leaves turn yellow, wilt and fall off, even though there is plenty of moisture in the roots. Other signs of an over-watered poinsettia include browned, pale or discolored foliage.

Solution
Fortunately, your slightly overwatered poinsettia can recover. However, you’ll need to take some drastic measures: first, stop watering your plant immediately. Next, make sure the container has enough drainage holes. Remove the plant from the pot and let the soil dry on a magazine. You should not water until the top few inches (to about the second finger joint) are dry.

3. sudden changes in temperature and extreme cold.

Proper care at your home will help prevent the leaves from falling off

It may seem illogical for a houseplant that blooms elegantly during the long dark nights of winter, but cold is poinsettia’s No. 1 enemy. Even a five-minute exposure to cold drafts, frost or a low temperature below 10°C can harm your plant. The same goes for hot drafts, direct sunlight and sudden temperature changes.

Solution
Avoid exposure to cold from the beginning. Proper care at your home will help prevent the leaves from falling off. Initially, keep your poinsettia at warmer daytime temperatures of up to 24° C. At night, they prefer slightly cooler temperatures in the ideal range of 15-18° C. You also need to keep the plant away from windy or drafty doors, windows and vents. Place it in a warm location that receives only bright, indirect sunlight.

4. watch out for diseases and pests.

Poinsettia loses leaves - 9 most common causes and the appropriate measures to save the houseplant


An unhealthy or diseased poinsettia is an unhappy plant that shows its distress by dropping its leaves. You should check it regularly for a variety of stem, root and crown rots caused by pathogens such as Thielaviopsis, Pythium or Rhizoctonia. If your poinsettia is defoliated, don’t rule out a pest infestation. Whiteflies, in particular, love to rest and suck on your precious poinsettia. Common insects found on poinsettias include mealybugs, spider mites, land flies, thrips and scale insects. They all produce the same results as whitefly.

Solution
Remove infested plant material immediately and provide more ventilation. Avoid overhead watering and keep the temperature consistently above 15° C. You can use a number of treatment and control measures. These include rubbing alcohol, manual crushing, horticultural oil, neem oil and insecticidal soap spray. You can also wash off the insects, but you should spray them at ten-day intervals.

5. insufficient light harms the plant.

Poinsettias love bright, filtered or indirect natural sunlight

Poinsettias love bright, filtered or indirect natural sunlight. Direct sunlight is a no-no for poinsettias, but too little light can cause the leaves to yellow and fall off. Unfortunately, this can go unnoticed for a long time, as plants take up to two months to react negatively to too little light.

Solution
Place your poinsettia in a bright, south-facing spot that is protected from direct sunlight by a light curtain or drape. However, your plant can also tolerate a few hours of sun.

6. low humidity causes the leaves to drop.

Poinsettia will lose leaves if it doesn't get proper care


Poinsettias are native to the tropics and love humid environments. While they can tolerate relatively dry air, poinsettia leaves curl up and fall off at extremely low humidity (below 30%). Leaves may also turn brown at the edges and tips.

Solution
Try increasing the humidity by spraying them, using a water dish with moisture, or setting up a humidifier. It may also help if you space your houseplants closer together.

7. too much fertilizer has a negative effect

Signs of an over-watered poinsettia include browned, pale or discolored foliage

If you use the wrong fertilizer, the leaves may fall off. If you use too much fertilizer , the result is similar. This is especially true if the soil is salty and contains too much boron or ammonium. The same effect can occur if you use softened or chlorinated water.

Solution
Give your poinsettia a balanced water-soluble houseplant fertilizer in early spring. Continue doing this monthly during the summer months. Reduce the amount of fertilizer by half or more when the leaves begin to fall.

8. the plant has been wrapped too long.

Take the poinsettia out of the packaging as soon as you get home

Poinsettias give off a toxic gas called ethylene. In the wild, this gas disperses quickly and causes no damage. However, if you keep your plant in a closed plant cover for a few days, the concentration will increase and leaves and bracts will begin to fall off.

Solution:
Remove the poinsettia from the packaging as soon as you get home. If you want to gift wrap your plant, do so just before you use it, not days before.

9. aging leaves

It is perfectly normal for a poinsettia to lose a leaf or two from time to time. This is how it gets rid of older, less functional leaves.

Solution: just pick up the dead leaves!