Issue: Decem1er 22, 2001

Poinsettia leaves falling too early


My poinsettia's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. What is wrong? What can I do?


Falling leaves from a poinsettia may be due to drying or to an episode of cold exposure. If the stems still look okay, the plant may survive, but the appearance of the plant may suffer. The drying may have occurred before or after you bought the plant. The poinsettia is adapted to dry climates and adapts to drought by dropping leaves. This may not occur immediately after drying but may take several days or a week. Anytime the plant wilts, leaf loss is possible. If the plant was exposed to cold air while in your car, while being carried indoors, or while being moved into the place where you bought it, there is a chance of leaf drop. Again, this is the plant's response to stress. If only a few leaves are lost, you need do nothing. If a lot of leaves fall from the plant, you may want to put some artificial greenery in the pot to cover the bare poinsettia stems. The red bracts (modified leaves) should be the last to fall, so adding artificial greenery should allow you to keep the plant attractive through the holidays.

Jade plant leaves shriveling


My jade plant's leaves are shriveling. I recently repotted it into a pretty glazed pot without drainage holes. I'm sure I'm watering it enough. What's wrong?


It is likely that the pot with drainage is the problem. If you are watering frequently, you may have a waterlogged condition in the soil in the pot. Jade plants can tolerate drying, but not waterlogging. The roots may be rotting. You may be able to save the plant by removing it from the pot, removing much of the old potting soil, and repotting in a very-well-drained potting soil in a pot with drainage. Take care not to overwater the jade plant, and it should develop healthy roots. If you want to use the pot without drainage, put some coarse gravel or a piece of broken brick in the bottom and place a plant in a pot with drainage into this "jardiniere". The gravel or brick will keep the base of the interior pot from being immersed in the water. If the water level in the pot gets too high, you can remove the water in the undrained pot. Another option is to use the pretty glazed pot with colorful silk plants or dried flower arrangements. You can easily change the appearance of such a display.

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For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page:

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.