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Tips on caring for your poinsettias

At Christmas time, the poinsettia with its colourful bracts provides a lovely splash of colour in our homes. It is ideal as decoration. In the pre-Christmas period, a large selection of Poinsettias can be purchased in markets and flower stalls. These plants, with their red, pink or cream-coloured bracts, are for us just as much a part of Christmas as are Christmas biscuits and Christmas tree baubles. The poinsettia has meanwhile become one of the most widely-sold plants across the world.

Watering

The poinsettia should only be moderately watered. It is highly sensitive to water collecting around its roots, and will drop its leaves. It is best to water it only when the soil is dry. It is best to water with soft and temperate water. After watering, remove any excess water from the pot to avoid waterlogging and to prevent the roots from rotting. If the poinsettia starts to drop its leaves, it may be due to the fact that it has been over-watered for a longer period of time and that the roots have started to rot. If such a case arises, do not water your poinsettia for a while. Begin to water again moderately once the soil has completely dried out again.

Location

For healthy growth, a poinsettia requires a bright, warm location. It should neither be subjected to direct sun nor to strong draughts. For this reason, a windowsill is generally not an ideal location, as draughts can reach the plant via tilted windows.
During the summer, it is essential that the plant is not placed in direct sun. In winter, a couple of hours of sun per day do not harm your plant. Nevertheless, the poinsettia should receive less than 12 hours of light/sun per day so that it can properly develop the colourful, intensive shades of the bracts.

Flowering

When the days become shorter, the poinsettia starts to flower. Plants from the previous year have to be “tricked” into flowering prior to Christmas. In order to simulate shorter days, the plant should be kept for approximately six weeks in a darkened room for 12 hours, or alternatively should be protected from the light by a cardboard box. This simple trick will make your poinsettia flower.

Decoration

Depending on requirements and personal taste, your poinsettia can also be decorated with gold thread or little stars. It is up to your personal taste to decide whether the plant looks best as it is or whether it needs further embellishment.

Photo: © Andreas Blakkolb - Fotolia.com

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