Festive Poinsettias are as synonymous with Christmas as Turkey and Tinsel. Yet they have a reputation for being difficult to look after. This need not be the case. Observe a few basic rules and they will offer festive cheer throughout the winter months!
The most important Poinsettia care essential is to keep them warm. Poinsettias originate from the warmer climates of Mexico. Whilst they might be grown outside in those climates it is certainly not the case over the Christmas period in East Sussex. Poinsettias are particularly sensitive to cold weather. They require a constant temperature above 13oC away from radiators and draughty doorways. If your Poinsettia foliage begins wilting it is a good indication that it has been stored in a location that is too cold. Sadly, once this occurs there is not a great deal you can do to save the plant. This is why our Poinsettias are located at the back of our Houseplant Section – the warmest part. In addition, once purchased we will put your Poinsettia in a plastic plant sleeve. This protects the sensitive foliage until you get it home.
Other important location needs
- Light: Poinsettias require bright but not direct sunlight light.
- Watering: The surface of the compost should be allowed to dry out before watering.
- Misting: Occasional misting of Poinsettia can increase humidity and prolong the flowering period into March.
- Feeding: A monthly liquid Tomato Feed is sufficient
Whilst keeping Poinsettia for Christmas is relatively easy keeping them for the longer term is not so easy. It is difficult to replicate the ideal growing conditions. This means that second year plants can be disappointing. However, it is good fun trying and very rewarding if you are successful.
- Reduce watering in March.
- Plants should be pruned to four inches in April once it drops it leaves. You can use the pruned material for propagating new plants. You should wear gloves as Poinsettia sap can be a skin irritant.
- You should then repot the plants. This should be done using a good draining compost mix – three parts John Innes No. 3 and one part grit.
- Watering should be increased in May once new shoots develop. You should at this stage feed weekly with Liquid Seaweed.
- They should be grown in light conditions with a constant temperature of around 16o
- The colouring of the bracts is caused by shorter daylight hours and a consistent temperature of around 18o Plants should have twelve hours of light (day or artificial) and then be placed in darkness for the other twelve hours of the day.
Following these care tips you could be enjoying colourful bracts in time for the festive period.