Dense foliage and budding flowers
In order to assess the quality of a poinsettia, one should take a close look at its leaves and flowers before purchasing. Fresh, plants that have been given proper care can be recognized by their fresh flowers and full, balanced foliage without any visible damage, discolouring or deformation. A simple tap test will show whether the foliage will deliver on its promises. If a light tap against the sides of the pot causes the leaves to drop, it’s better not to buy the plant. The flowers of the poinsettia are tiny and unassuming. They are grouped within small structures at the base of the coloured bracts and measure only a few millimetres in diameter. The flowers give a good indication of the condition of a plant. If they are greenish-yellow rounded buds, the plant is fresh and quite likely to retain its full beauty for another few weeks. But if the flowers are covered in yellow pollen, it’s obvious that the poinsettia is already past its prime and will soon drop its lovely bracts.
A protected location and slightly moist soil
Steer clear of poinsettias that have been exposed to draught or even left standing outdoors. These warmth-loving plants don’t like draughts or temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius at all. The consequences are often not visible until days later, when the poinsettia suddenly drops its leaves. In this case there’s little hope of recovery, and the only recourse is to go out and buy a new plant. Apart from location, proper watering is also decisive for lasting plant health. Poinsettias should never be overwatered, but neither should they be allowed to dry out. To find out whether a poinsettia has been watered properly, just stick a finger in the pot. If the soil is slightly moist and there is no sign that the pot has been standing in water, there is no reason not to buy it. But to be really sure that a poinsettia is absolutely healthy, you should lift it carefully out of its pot and check to see whether the roots are white. Don’t let anyone see you though, it’s not the best way to find favour with the sales staff at the garden centre or flower shop!
Bundle up for the trip home
In order to ensure that your carefully-chosen poinsettia makes it home in good condition, it should be properly packed in paper before taking it outside and then transferred to its new location straightaway. Even a brief spell unprotected in the cold is enough for poinsettias to suffer lasting damage. Care must also be taken when wrapping and transporting the plant to avoid damaging the branches or foliage. Every injury to the plant will weaken it and the leaking sap can also leave stains.
By the way: Garden centres and florists have fresh, beautiful poinsettias on hand right up to Christmas. So if yours should need replacing at the last minute, you won’t have to celebrate the holidays with this traditional Christmas decoration.
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