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Tips on caring for your poinsettias

Nothing says Christmas more than a beautiful poinsettia plant. During the festive season, potted poinsettias are here, there and everywhere. It is interesting to note though that all that beautiful fiery red seen in December is, in fact, a man-made fabrication; July/August is actually the time when poinsettias are blooming naturally and their bracts become their signature red.

The poinsettia chooses the shortest days of the year to initiate the flower buds and this extreme sensitivity to light makes it possible for it to be manipulated to turn red when it suits; hence the ocean of redness at the direct opposite time of the year. 

If you have a poinsettia plant in your garden, now is the time that you will be enjoying its stunning redness. Although originally from Mexico, they are happy to grow in Australia as long as they are planted in a warm, protected spot away from strong winds. It will thrive best in half to full sun and, most importantly, requires soil that drains very well. 

The poinsettia should only be moderately watered. It is highly sensitive to water collecting around its roots, and, as a consequence, will drop its leaves. It is best to water only when the soil is dry and with soft and temperate water. If the poinsettia starts to drop its leaves, it is probably due to prolonged over-watered and may result in root 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.

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