Its that time of year again when garden centre's house plant areas turn into seas of red and throngs of customers carry home a Poinsettia hoping it will survive in time to give to Great Aunt Maud!
So here are some essential survival tips for keeping a Poinsettia direct from the grower's experience.
- Light - plenty of it! These plants originally came from Mexico so they love bright, sunny conditions. In the UK this is tricky in the middle of winter so place your Poinsettia where it will receive maximum natural daylight.
- Temperature - not too cold. Again, Mexico should come to mind so keep them at normal house temperatures, above 15 degrees C. Avoid leaving them in cold cars or unheated conservatories and definitely not the shed overnight!
- Watering. Poinsettia are a bit fussy with watering. If they dry out to the point of wilting they will go yellow and leaves will drop off. On the other hand, they don't like to be too wet. Stick your thumb in the compost - if you have a dark damp stain on it then it is wet enough. If it remains dry with light coloured compost then give it a water from the top and tip any water away from its saucer after 10 minutes. They hate to stand in water. Use slightly warm water to avoid shocking the roots (think if you put your toes in icy cold water!). Generally a water every 3rd to 4th day in a warm room should work though check with your thumb.
- Fertiliser - don't give them any. When you buy a Poinsettia it has finished its growing for the year and won't need any feed. Burnt roots can result with feeding through the winter.
- Misting - don't do it! Poinsettia like their flowers to be dry, they can rot off if kept damp.