Add A Touch Of Joy With Poinsettias

The number one houseplant over the festive season has to be potted poinsettias.

Euphorbia pulcherrima, also known as Mexican flame leaf, and in the northern hemisphere as Christmas star flower, show off their bright red bracts in winter, which is why they are grown in South Africa in greenhouses at cooler temperatures until they are ready for the shops. For the festive season, red is the most popular colour, but there are other colours to look out for including cream, yellow, pink and orange.

4 Golden Rules For Poinsettias

To keep potted poinsettias at their peak, these are some of the golden rules:

1. When buying a poinsettia look for a plant with little yellow buds between the leaves (these are the actual flowers) and fresh-looking foliage. Protect your plant from extreme weather and draughts when transporting home.

2. Find a position well out of direct sunlight, but with enough bright light for the plant to be happy. If the area is too draughty, it may start to lose its leaves.

3. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 15 and 22°C.

4. Poinsettias prefer water like rain water, or tap water that has been left to stand for a day. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch and make sure the water drains away before replacing in its drip tray. If the leaves start to yellow or fall off the plant, then it’s probably a sign that it is being overwatered. There is a fine balance here as they do like humidity, but rather keep the soil too dry than too wet.

It is possible to get your poinsettias to bloom again after the festive season has ended, but they are rarely at their best the following year. Rather treat them like long-lasting cut flowers and replace them every year, composting them as they die down.

National Poinsettia Day

On 12 December, National Poinsettia Day is celebrated around the world. The day was named to commemorate a US diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant into the US from Mexico in 1828.

These plants are grown by LVG Plants and are available from retail outlets and garden centres.

The Gardener