Every Christmas you may hold out hope for your favourite festive pot plant and yet by Easter, it is long gone.
Poinsettias, a South American plant, have formed part of festive celebrations in Europe for hundreds of years, yet somehow, many of us just can’t keep them going for as long as we’d like.
According to Claire Bishop, senior houseplant buyer at Dobbies, “When it comes to festive plants, there aren’t any more renowned for embodying the spirit of Christmas than the beautiful poinsettia.”
She adds: “This beloved houseplant is a staple during the festive period. However, it can be tricky to care for, meaning that a lot of poinsettias don’t make it very far into the New Year.”
If you give them the conditions and TLC they need, you will be able to keep the festive spirit going in floral form until the next year.
So how can we help them thrive?
Choose a bright spot
Bishop says: “Poinsettias like a lot of light so you should place them in a bright spot where they’ll get at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day. However, you should avoid direct sunlight as this could scorch the plant’s leaves. Being a tropical plant, poinsettias also like warmth so you should keep them away from windows and other draughty spots as this could cause the plant’s bracts to drop.”
So, despite the fact it may be darker out, pop your plant by a window and move it if it gets a bit too hot.
When it comes to watering your poinsettias, Bishop says: “You should only water when the soil is noticeably dry to the touch. This will vary on the temperature of your home, so your plant could require watering every few days, or once a week depending on its surroundings.
“Poinsettias won’t thank you for waterlogged soil, so make sure they are planted in a pot with good drainage. They also like a humid environment so a poinsettia’s leaves will benefit from regular misting, which should prevent them from drying out when you have your heating on in winter.”
Much like their natural habitat of hot and humid in the Americas, you need to recreate that as best you can.
Feed your poinsettia
To make your poinsettia last long after the festive period is over, Bishop says you should feed it. She notes: “Your poinsettia will benefit from monthly feedings to keep it thriving long into the New Year. Consider using a liquid plant food to fertilise your poinsettia throughout the spring and summer months to allow it to bloom again next Christmas.”
Being in a pot may mean they aren’t getting all the nutrients they need so be sure to supplement that.
Don’t let it get overgrown.
“If you are feeding your poinsettia and it is growing, in spring cut back your plant’s stems by a third, to around six inches, and remove the plant’s foliage to allow room for new growth,” she says. “In late summer, after months of growing, you will need to prune your poinsettia again to control its size ahead of the cooler months.”
Your plant may need a bit more room to grow in.
Bishop says: “In spring if you notice your poinsettia is growing, you should repot it into a larger container to accommodate its growing size. Make sure you use a fresh potting mix with good drainage and choose a pot that’s big enough for the plant’s roots to grow.”
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