Keeping Poinsettias happy through the festive season

Is it nearly Christmas again or have I gone into a time warp?  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I was planning the orders for last years festive houseplants and by the time you read this article there should be a colour explosion in the department.

Of course, the main splash of colour comes from that  perennial favourite, Euphorbia Pulcherrima, commonly known as the Poinsettia.  This houseplant is still a popular choice to decorate the house during winter and the red varieties remain the best sellers even though other colours are available including pink, white and burgundy.

The colour actually comes from the bracts (modified leaves) and the true flowers are yellow and nestled in the centre of the bracts. Look for tightly closed flowers for maximum life from your plant.

Poinsettias are very much like us, they like to be in a warm, draught-free room with good light.  If placed on the windowsill, bring them into the room when you draw the curtains.

Poinsettias hate constant wet around their roots so let the compost become moderately dry before watering thoroughly with tepid water.  Also mist the leaves frequently as poinsettias don’t like hot dry air.

If you relish a challenge you can keep your poinsettia for next Christmas.  When the leaves start to wilt cut the plant back and reduce watering.  In early summer re-pot the plant and increase watering. When new shoots appear, trim some of the older stems out to create a well-shaped plant.  At the end of September, start to cover the plant each evening with a black polythene bag, removing it next morning. Aim to give 14 hours total darkness each day for about 2 months and the bracts should start to colour up again in time for Christmas.