There are poinsettias plants in the store, but do you know how to care for them? If not, this article is perfect for you.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia Pulcherrima), a native of Mexico, are beautiful house plants with dark green leaves and leafy red ‘bracts’ that encircle the bright-yellow blooms in the festive season.
They range in size from multi-headed plants 60cm (2ft) across to mini single-headed plants about 10cm (4in) tall.
They’re a common sight at Christmas but can be difficult to maintain.
In this article will tell you everything about these stunning plants and how to grow them at home. It includes information about watering poinsettia plants, fertilizing poinsettia plants when to harvest poinsettia flowers and more. So read on!
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How to grow poinsettias
While poinsettias plants can be grown outdoors in the UK, they may not survive long if the weather gets too cold. It’s best to keep them indoors so you can control the temperature.
At gardentips360 we believe in keeping it simple so our advice would be to buy your poinsettia plant from your local supermarket or farm shop. Just avoid buying plants that have been positioned near a door or cold draft. These may have already suffered damage and keep your poinsettia looking healthy.
When choosing your poinsettia plant there are probably only a couple of considerations, colour and size. For the holiday season, the most popular choice is red but they do come in cream to salmon pink, and even stripy. Size is up to you but if you are buying from a shop or garden centre choose a fully grown, healthy plant with colourful bracts and one that is not suffering from leaf drop.
How to care for your poinsettia plant
Poinsettia care requires a combination of temperature control, watering and nutrition. Like most indoor plants they flourish best in direct sunlight but any sunny window or area is fine.
Temperature and light
To keep your poinsettia alive try to maintain a regular temperature of around 16°C (60°F), and try to avoid complete darkness.
Your poinsettia plant needs moist soil but not too wet. A good way to tell if they need watering is to stick your finger an inch or so into the topsoil. If the topsoil is dry, then it’s time to water. The best way to water poinsettias is to pour water directly onto the soil at the base of the plant so that it can soak in. Do not water poinsettias from above as this will cause the leaves to rot.
To increase humidity and keep the colourful bracts looking their best for longer consider using a spray bottle or plant mister to spray over the leaves and flower buds.
Your poinsettia plant will need a bit of fertilizer help during the Christmas season. Fertilize your plants with a balanced fertilizer every other week.
How to encourage poinsettias to flower again
It’s difficult to get your poinsettia to bloom again, but if you’re up for a challenge, follow these steps exactly:
In April, prune your poinsettia back to about 10cm and store it at 13°C. In early May, repot your poinsettia in a slightly larger container with fresh, peat-free, loam-based compost.
Poinsettias blossom and show off their beautiful bracts as day length decreases. This occurs naturally in December, but to trigger blooming by Christmas, put your plant into a dark drawer for 12 hours a day from November. Maintain an 18°C temperature throughout this time and avoid exposing it to unnatural light.
Once your poinsettia has started flowering, mist leaves daily to keep them looking their best for as long as possible.
How to propagate poinsettias
Personally, I think it’s a lot of bother but you can take softwood cuttings of your poinsettia around May to grow more. When working with poinsettias, be sure to use gloves – like all Euphorbiaceae family members, they have a milky sap that can irritate the skin.
The main problems people have with growing poinsettia plants are keeping the temperature and light levels consistent, watering correctly, and providing enough nutrients. The poinsettia plant is a pretty tough customer if you follow these guidelines and it should survive the holiday season in good health.
Common Poinsettia Varieties
- Prestige Red: Classic red, a best seller.
- Jingle Bells: Red bracts splashed with soft pink or white.
- Winter Rose Early Red: Smaller, curled, dark red bracts that resemble a rose bloom. Also available in white, pink, and marbled.
- Plum Pudding: The first poinsettia with purple bracts.