Poinsettias with their intense red bracts are a classic sign it’s Christmas. Originating from Mexico, and named after the United States’ Minister to Mexico Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the world, they also come in cream, pink and white. The plant is difficult to maintain, but if looked after carefully can survive for several years and grow to an optimal height of 32cm. Here are our top tips to allow the plant to thrive.
Buy from a reputable supplier
Poinsettias are poorly suited to the British climate. It is recommended that you buy the plant from a company that has not stored the plant in cold conditions for an extended period of time. When transporting the plant be sure to keep it well protected, either wrapped in paper or in a suitable plastic bag. It is recommended that the foliage is also protected.
Maintain a constant temperature
Poinsettias are used to warmer climates so it is necessary to keep the plant indoors at temperatures above 13C (55F). Even moderate exposure to the cold can harm the plant’s prospects so it is worthwhile transferring from the garden centre without delay. The plant is best left in a stable environment not liable to temperature fluctuations. As such it should be left in good light away from both draughts and direct sunlight. Aim for 15-18C (60-65F), but it is better for the plant to be slightly warmer than colder.
Water sparingly, but well
Too much water will damage the plant, so it best to water only once the compost begins to dry out and then water thoroughly. In addition, weekly feed of houseplant fertiliser should extend its longevity. Fertiliser with low nitrogen and high potassium works best.
Creating a humid atmosphere is beneficial to the plant. The simplest way to do this is through misting which involves spraying the plant daily, although this method has its doubters. A more effective means may be to create a pebble tray. This simply involves placing the pot on a tray wider than the plant, with wet pebbles an inch or so deep. The water then will evaporate off the pebbles as to create humidity.
Don’t give up
Even severely wilted poinsettias can be rescued so make sure to give the root ball a good soaking with warm water before chucking it out. Revival should take place in matter of hours.
Jorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!
His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.
Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.