Watering poinsettias is a struggle for many, and doing it wrong is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. In this post I’ll show you all you need to know including when, how much, and how often they need it.

How To Water Poinsettias

Properly watering poinsettias is a key part in keeping them healthy through the holiday season and beyond.

It can be tricky for beginners to understand how to give them just the right amount throughout the year.

This guide is designed to help you learn exactly how to water a poinsettia, no matter if you keep it indoors, outdoors, or in a container.

Read on to learn how much and how often to water, the signs of over and under watering, how to figure out exactly when they need it, and much more.

Poinsettia Watering Requirements

Poinsettias are very picky about how much water they get, and doing it wrong is their number one killer.

They come from a naturally humid climate, so they never like to be bone-dry. They prefer a consistent and slightly high level of moisture.

The good news is that no matter if you have the prestige red, jingle bells, winter rose, white star, or another variety, they can all be watered in the same way.

Related Post: How To Care For Poinsettia Plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

When To Water Poinsettias

Even though it may seem like it, watering on a schedule is never a good idea. Sticking to a routine can easily lead to overwatering, which will end up killing your plant.

Instead, you should always check the soil and plant routinely to see if it actually needs more.

That will help you learn the signs that it’s thirsty, and get a good understanding of how long it can go without.

How Do I Know If My Poinsettia Needs Water?

The best way to determine if your poinsettia needs water is to stick your finger 1″ into the soil. If it feels damp then hold off.

A moisture gauge is a really great tool that can help you figure out exactly when it’s ready for more. The meter should read on the lower end of the green ‘moist’ range.

Water meter probe at ideal poinsettia moisture level
Water meter probe at ideal poinsettia moisture level

How Often To Water Poinsettia

Exactly how often to water your poinsettia depends on a few factors. The season, location of the plant, and the weather all affect how often and how much they need.

That’s why it’s important to always go by touch or use a moisture gauge so you don’t end up accidentally overdoing it.

Watering Poinsettia In Summer

Warmer weather and active growth can make a poinsettia thirstier during the spring and summer.

Check in weekly and make sure you hydrate it whenever the top 1” of soil is dry.

If yours is in a pot outdoors, you may want to check it more often, especially during heat waves that can dry it out faster.

Related Post: How To Care For Poinsettias Outside

Watering Poinsettia In Winter

Temperature is less of an issue in winter, but dry indoor air and heaters can cause the moisture to evaporate faster.

So be sure to check it regularly. You may also need to increase the humidity by setting it on a pebble tray or running a small humidifier nearby.

Checking poinsettia moisture with my finger
Checking poinsettia moisture with my finger

How Much Water Does A Poinsettia Need?

Poinsettias prefer to stay evenly moist but never wet or soggy. It’s better to err on the side of under watering rather than to overdo it.

Learning the signs of drought stress or overwatering can help you understand how to give yours the perfect amount.

Excess water draining from poinsettia pot
Excess water draining from poinsettia pot

Overwatering Symptoms

Overwatering is a main cause of death for poinsettias. They will struggle to recover from it, so keep an eye out for these signs, and reduce the amount you give them if needed.

  • Yellow leaves
  • Drooping or wilting
  • Soft leaves or stems
  • Leaf drop
  • Soggy or wet soil

Under Watering Symptoms

Severe drought can be just as damaging, and unfortunately many of the signs are the same. If your poinsettia shows these symptoms and feels very dry, water more often.

  • Yellow leaves
  • Shriveled or wilted leaves
  • Leaf drop
  • Scarred or ‘burned’ leaf edges
  • Soil is dry more than 1-2” deep, or it’s pulling away from the inside of the pot
Poinsettia leaves curling from improper watering
Poinsettia leaves curling from improper watering

How To Water Poinsettias

Just as crucial as getting the timing right is knowing how to properly water a poinsettia.

It’s important to note that you should always use room temperature water to avoid shocking them. So plan ahead and fill your watering can beforehand.

Watering Poinsettias From The Top

Top watering is the preferred method for a poinsettia. Always pour it over the top of the medium to avoid splashing any on the leaves.

Provide deep, thorough drinks and go slowly so it can soak in evenly. Stop once it begins to seep from the bottom of the container.

Then allow all of the excess to drain out completely, and pour it from the foil or drip tray so it’s never soaking. You may find it easier to do this in a sink.

Watering poinsettia from the top
Watering poinsettia from the top

Bottom Watering Poinsettias

I don’t recommend watering a poinsettia from the bottom unless it’s severely dry to the point where the liquid just runs right through the pot.

It’s very easy to overwater them with this method because the bottom of the rootball can be saturated before the top layer feels moist. Ensuring yours never becomes bone-dry is the best practice.


Here I’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about how to water a poinsettia. If yours isn’t on the list please add it to the comments section below.

What is the best way to water poinsettias?

The best way to water poinsettias is to slowly pour it over the top of the soil until it begins to come out of the bottom of the container. Allow all of the excess to drain away freely so it’s never left soaking.

Can you overwater a poinsettia?

Yes, you can overwater a poinsettia very easily. Some of the symptoms include drooping and wilting, which may lead you to think that it’s thirsty. It’s best to keep them evenly moist but never saturated or wet.

Do you water poinsettias when they are in the dark?

Yes, even when your poinsettia is in the dark you will still need to water it just like you normally would.

Can you water poinsettias with ice cubes?

I don’t recommend watering poinsettias with ice cubes because the cold can shock them, and it can be harder to determine the amount they’re getting. Instead use tepid water and apply it at a slow and steady pace.

Do you water poinsettias from top or bottom?

The best way to water a poinsettia is from the top. Bottom watering can lead to overdoing it, which can quickly kill your plant.

Now that you understand the best ways to water poinsettias you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday blooms for as long as possible. The tips in this guide will help you get it right every time.

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Share your tips for how to water poinsettia in the comments section below.

How To Water Poinsettias The Complete Guide

Amy Andrychowicz

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