The Christmas plant, or Poinsettia is easy care when you first buy them, it’s after that become a little tricky. If it’s late November or into December it’s time to start looking for Poinsettia, what might just be the one of the best selling plants in the world.
The really interesting thing about Poinsettias is that we do not really grow them for the flowers, and we do not grow them for the foliage either.
If we look at the ‘ classic poinsettia’ variety it actually has green foliage and the flowers are a rather insignificant white.
It is the brilliant new red bracts that surround those tiny white flowers that are the brilliant red.
You can now find Poinsettias that are white, pink and even pink and white as well as red with splashes of white.
Where do you find Poinsettia
In the USA it’s a huge seller from Thanksgiving on. In the UK its very popular, same in Europe and even in Australia. Not sure if its the colourful nature of the plant itself, or a tradition that has grown and been commercialised so much its almost out of control.
Caring Poinsettias after Christmas
My wife has a habit of trying to keep poinsettias going all year, but she always buys new ones as well, I think she just loves the tradition.
So how do you best care for these ‘Christmas Plants’.
Firstly remember that these plants and heavily hybridised and grown under controlled conditions. They do not like cold breezes and do not like it to hot either.
So try not to keep them near an outside door, or right next to the central heating. This all depends on your climate as well.
You can also try cutting the plants right back to 1 or 2 buds above the ground and then wait until new growth appears before applying fertilizer and watering.
Like most plants they do not like wet feet, and this is where most problems start, they tend to get wrapped up, or put in decorative pot holders and the water does not always get away.
Wet soil means the roots system is not happy, end of plant.
How much water ?
When asked how much water to use, the answer is not how much, but when to water and how. Try the following steps.
- Wait until the soil in the pot begins to dry, you will notice the container becoming lighter as well as the soil dry to touch.
- Then you give the plant a good watering.
- Sit it in a sink or basin with pot almost submerged in water.
- Leave it for 5 minutes.
- Remove it from the water and let it drain.
- Return it to to its position once the water stops running out.
They certainly don’t like to dry out completely, so a moist well drained soil is what we are after.
- Do not let the plants get cold, keep above 50F
- Keep the plants away from drafts, both hot and cold
- Take the decorative wrapping off.
- Water the soil not the flower bracts or foliage
- Keep moist but not wet
Can you grow Poinsettias outside ?
Euphorbia pulcherrima is the botanical name for poinsettia, and they can be grown outside, think California and Florida. California is the ‘home of poinsettias’ although they are grown commercially from Florida to Alaska, poinsettias are big business at Christmas time..
Are the poisonous to Dogs and Cats?
Yes, however only mildly if eaten. They can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, however this usually not serious. If in doubt see you Vet. The sap in the stems can be an irritant to skin and eyes, so avoid contact.