Poinsettia: December Houseplant of the Month
The story of Poinsettia
What you first notice about the poinsettia are the beautifully coloured leaves. They’re often thought to be the flowers, but are actually bracts that form a star shape around the true flowers, which are small and yellow in the heart. The classic red poinsettia is familiar, but trending for December 2019 are modern pastel colours such as salmon, pink, lemon and apricot. It’s an instant mood maker for the holidays and thereafter, because this winter bloomer provides a colourful start to 2020.
Poinsettia (the scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, but it’s also known as the Christmas star) originates from Mexico and Central America, where it grows as a herbaceous shrub that can reach a height of 4 metres. The plant blooms outdoors from November to February, and the bush is bare in summer. The Aztecs considered the plant to be holy; they called it Cuitla-xochitl.
Poinsettia is a ‘short day’ plant on which the star-shaped bracts take on colour when the days get shorter, which coincides nicely with the Christmas period in the northern hemisphere. The range is constantly expanding, and poinsettia is offered from mini and standard through to hanging plant and bush shape. The main colours are red and white, while new colours such as lilac, salmon, cream and bicoloured poinsettias can also be found in store.
The appealing bracts mean that the plant can fit into any Christmas décor theme in the home, from an icy white winter wonderland to a classic red based theme.
Care tips for your poinsettia
- Poinsettia likes a light spot without bright sunshine.
- The soil should always be slightly damp.
- The plant cannot cope with draughts or very warm locations, such as above the radiator or next to a crackling log fire.
- Some plant food once a fortnight is preferred.
- If your poinsettia’s leaves turn yellow and drop off, you should place the plant in a cooler and lighter spot and increase the humidity. That should perk it back up.
Poinsettia is very sensitive to cold, so wrap it carefully after purchase for the trip home.
Text courtesy of The Flower Council.