Most families have at least one Poinsettia plant in the house at Christmas time. The Poinsettia – or to give it its botanical name, Euphorbia Pulcherrima – was introduced to the United States by by Joel Roberts Poinsett around 200 years ago, who was the American ambassador to Mexico. December 12th is Poinsettia day in America, and commemorates his death in 1851.
Healthy Poinsettias should have lots of dark green leaves, and plenty of bright red flowers, known as bracts. If the leaves or bracts look dried out or damaged, select another plant.The Poinsettia is not a plant that thrives on neglect, so to keep it healthy and flowering over the holidays, you must give it the care and attention it needs so it doesn’t end up in the skip bins.
Location and temperature
Poinsettias thrive in natural light, so place it near the window that gets the most sun. Remember these plants are tropical, so give them the sun they love. Try to avoid north facing windows, and don’t allow the plant to touch the glass. Don’t place the plant too near a door, or anywhere else where it may be subject to draughts or sudden changes of temperature.
Don’t place the plant too near an open fire or radiator – Poinsettias don’t like to be too hot or too cold.Try to maintain a temperature of around 65 degrees in the room, and no less than 60 degrees overnight. Keeping a constant temperature will avoid the possibility of leaf drop, which will leave your Poinsettia looking very sorry for itself.
Check the soil around your Poinsettia every day, and if it’s dry to the touch, water it until the water comes through the drainage holes in the pot. Catch the excess water in a saucer or shallow bowl, but don’t allow the plant to remain in water. Poinsettias don’t like getting their feet wet, and will shed their leaves if you leave them standing in water. Don’t allow the plant to become so dry that it wilts. While the plant will recover, it may shed its leaves in protest at being deprived of a drink.
Your Poinsettia will flower long after Christmas if it is happy. The flowers may even last until Valentine’s Day. While it’s possible to keep a Poinsettia growing through the year, the process is rather fussy and time consuming. As Poinsettias are relatively cheap, it may be better to start with a new plant next Christmas.