Christmas Poinsettia – Beautiful Euphorbia
What is the most beautiful Euphorbia?
The genus Euphorbia includes many plants that are commonly found in UK gardens today. When it comes to choosing to most beautiful Euphorbia, though, this is a bit of a play on words. Euphorbia pulcherrima literally translates as “the most beautiful Euphorbia.” What is the Euphorbia pulcherrima? It is the Christmas poinsettia!
Now I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, a poinsettia coming into the house meant Christmas was ‘really, really, nearly here!’ There are myths and legends surrounding how to pick a good poinsettia and how to keep them alive. Having spent many years managing to keep them alive, here are my top tips!
Top Tips for Keeping Poinsettia Alive
#1 Plant Choice
- This might seem like an obvious one, but you need to select a healthy-looking poinsettia. Dark green stems, brightly coloured bracts (leaf-like petals) – then you are all good to go. Avoid plants that are showing signs of wilting, drooping, or yellowing. You will have no way of knowing how long they have been like that, so don’t take chances. Unless you like a houseplant challenge, I would also recommend avoiding reducing poinsettias – they can be tricky to keep alive; why is the shop reducing them?
- My problem with the vast number of shops is that they have their flower displays next to their doors! Display conditions are key to a plant’s survival. Plants can be damaged so quickly, and you might not notice it until a few days later. (Moving off-track a little here, NEVER buy a phalaenopsis orchid that has been displayed near a door. They rarely survive and will come into your house with a whole host of problems)
- A poinsettia is a plant I would really recommend purchasing from a specialist plant shop and not a supermarket or similar. Keeping them watered ‘just right’ is a task and really do require specialist knowledge. The leaves and soil are good indicators of the care the plants have received. Soil should be ‘just’ damp and not wet. Check that the poinsettias are not standing in water! The leaves should be clear of any bugs or tears (I like to think that if care has been taken during transport and display, then the plant should be of reasonable quality)
- Avoid buying pre-wrapped plants. I suggest this mainly because you will never know how long they have been wrapped for and you won’t be able to check the plant all over.
#2 How to take your poinsettia home
- Once you have chosen your prize poinsettia, you now have the task of transporting it home and keeping it alive! While I don’t recommend purchasing a pre-wrapped poinsettia, I really do recommend asking for it to be wrapped. This will physically protect the plant on your way home, but will also help to protect it from the shock of the changes of temperature between the shop, the journey home, and in your home. If you have ever bought a goldfish then you will know that you take it home in a little of its own water and then let it become accustomed it to its new surroundings gently; it is good practice to treat houseplants in a similar manner.
#3 Keeping your poinsettia alive at home
- Location, location, location!
* Light but not direct sunlight
* Near an east or west facing window
* Don’t let the leaves touch the window; they will fall off!
- It is important that your poinsettia is kept within an ideal temperature range: highs of 21C and lows of 18C are perfect. Below 10C will kill the poinsettia very quickly.
- Watering should be carried out sparingly and only when the soil is dry. Never allow the poinsettia to sit in water!
Fun fact: a group of Poinsettias is called a ‘pod’
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