Poinsettias need more care than most houseplants. The Field offers tips to help your Christmas poinsettia outlive the festive period
Before settling down to read how to keep your Christmas poinsettia looking good longer, do take a look at more of The Field‘s fabulous festive content including luxury advent calendars, the best Christmas crackers, countryside Christmas cards and the best Christmas puddings. If you’ve still got Christmas presents to buy, our gifts guides for men, women, the home, children and presents under £50 are a must-read.
Christmas poinsettias – a festive tradition
This year in the UK, some eight million poinsettias will be sold. Together with piped carols and tinsel, weeks before Christmas poinsettia plants make an appearance in shops and garden centres. They are native to Central America, where they are found in sites ranging from moist valleys to dry, rocky hillsides and can grow either as straggly shrubs or trees over four metres tall. Despite this apparent adaptability, they can be fragile house plants that require special care.
Choosing your Christmas poinsettia
Where possible, buy a plant that hasn’t travelled far. Poinsettias suffer from the stresses of importation, spending hours in a lorry and in cold packing sheds. Choose a plant that has been in a warm place, not in a draughty spot. Furthermore, look for a poinsettia that has a good shape with nice green leaves that aren’t drooping. Avoid anything with yellowing leaves. Finally, make your Christmas poinsettia the last purchase of the day so it doesn’t spend hours being carried around or sitting in the car.
Caring for your poinsettia
Once home, remove any packaging as quickly to allow your plant to be exposed to light and air. What’s more, a plastic sleeve can create a build up of ethylene gas that can make leaves curl and drop, so whip it off pronto. Poinsettias like well-lit spots but don’t let it have more than two hours sunlight a day. Equally, they enjoy warmth but not heat so avoid placing near a fireplace, computer or draughty window. Ideally, they should be at a temperature around 16 degrees at night.
Pamper your Christmas poinsettia
Make sure to keep the soil moist using tepid water – and always water in the morning rather than the evening. Every two weeks, feed with a houseplant food. Poinsettias don’t like dry air. If yours is in a centrally heated room, during the morning lightly spray the air above the green leaves rather than the bracts. There is a potted poinsettia in Texas that is 26 years old. We can’t promise yours will have quite such a lifespan but with a little care your Christmas poinsettia should live well into the New Year.