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It’s not winter without a poinsettia. Tips for plant care

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Ever since the 1950s when German breeders succeeded in cultivating the first poinsettia plants that could flourish in heated rooms, poinsettias have been an indispensable component of the Advent and Christmas season. This diversified star among winter bloomers with its magnificently-coloured bracts accompanies people all over the world throughout the most beautiful time of the year as long as they keep the following tips in mind.

The ideal spot

Light is the elixir of life for this Christmas classic. A spot near a window is well-suited and even full sun is not a problem during winter in our latitudes. The ideal temperature ranges between 15 and 22°C. When airing the room, make sure the plant doesn't get caught in a cold draught. As long as the window is open, it's better to move your poinsettia to a safe corner. To keep a poinsettia in top form, keep it in a warm, bright spot that is protected from draughts.

Room-temperature water, please

Watering poinsettias requires a bit of sensibility. It's better for the soil to be a bit too dry than too moist. Waterlogging must be avoided, as this will occupy important soil space and suffocate the roots. Therefore, never give the plant more water than the soil can absorb and remove any excess water in the pot or saucer no more than 15 minutes after watering. There is no rule of thumb for watering poinsettias. If the air in the room is dry or if the plant is standing near a heater it may be necessary to water every day. Usually it's enough to get out the watering can every two to three days. If the root bale is immersed in water for a few minutes the plant won't need watering again for longer. The size of the pot also plays a role: Small pots need watering more often than big ones. Poinsettia miniatures should be checked every day. Lifting up the pot will give you a feel for how much moisture is in it. If it feels light, it's time to water again. And one more thing: poinsettias prefer room-temperature water.

Shopping tips

Poinsettias promise especially long enjoyment if they are treated with care on the way home from the garden centre or nursery. The quality of the plant is good if the little yellow buds between the coloured bracts - the actual flowers - still look tight. Healthy plants have intact bracts and are not on display in the draughty entryway of the shop. The plants should be wrapped in paper for the trip home. Exposure to draughts or temperatures below 12°C will cause damage which, although not visible at first, may cause the poinsettia to drop its leaves soon after being brought home.