Tuesday, 11 December 2012


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Poinsettias are traditional Christmas plants and belong to the plant group Euphorbia Pulcherrima. They are available as traditional red flowering, but also come in pink or white.  The ‘flowers’ are actually bracts (modified leaves) and the flowers are the inconspicuous yellow centres that lie within the bracts.

There are sixty-five million poinsettias bought worldwide each year, but too often by New Year all that is remaining in the pot are a few sticks and some sorry looking leaves.  But you can make your poinsettia  last the festive season, and into spring and next winter, if you care for them successfully.

Poinsettias hate draughts and the cold.  All too often they are damaged even before they are displayed in your home, either by being sold in by cold supermarket doors or on the way home.   Select a poinsettia that is in a sheltered position in the shop, and wrap it up before taking it out.  Ensure you choose a healthy plant free from pest and diseases and one that has plenty of leaves and buds.

Give careful consideration to the location of the plant within your home.  They require a warm and light position, but need to avoid being placed directly next to radiators and windows.  Keep the temperature constant between 15C-22C.

Water only when the compost feels dry, but remember poinsettia can be thirsty plants.  Maintain a high humidity around the plants, so either mist occasionally or alternatively fill a saucer half with gravel and water and place near to the plant.  Feed once a month with a tomato food.

A few months after Christmas the plants will start to fade.  In order to stay bright poinsettias require equal amounts of light and dark, which is a challenge when the days start to get longer again. Move the plant to a cool, dark position indoors and water as weekly as required.

Often poinsettias get too leggy to use again the following season so you  can take new cuttings from  the plant during the summer.  However, with effort, you can nurse the parent through until the following Christmas.

Re-pot your poinsettia in April into a slightly bigger pot using compost consisting of 3 parts John Innes 3 and 1 part grit.  Cut the plant down to 10cm high. 

Once the danger of frost has passed and the ground has warmed up the plant can be placed outside.  Select a bright, sunny spot and sink the pot into the ground.  Water as necessary.

Bring the plant back into the house during September before it gets too cold. Place in a light, sunny position and feed with a low nitrogen feed every three weeks.

During October and November  you need to mimic short days and long nights in order to promote bushing on the plants. Place in a dark room during the evening, ensuring no light shines on the plant, and then place back in a sunny position during the day. The plant should burst into life during December.

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