|Author: John Sanders||Published: 17th December 2009 18:05|
Once again, with the imminent arrival of Christmas, poinsettias are just about everywhere. Its latin name is Euphorbia Pulcherrima. It is a very beautiful plant which now comes to us in various different colourings. Personally I prefer the traditional bright red leaves but they do come in shades of pink and white. The bright colour is in the leaves. The flowers are in the centre of the tip of the shoot and are quite insignificant.
The name Euphorbia may be surprising as euphorbias are succulents. This is a clue as to how to look after them. Hopefully when you bring your plant home, it will not have suffered standing in the cold. The poinsettia was discovered in Mexico in 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the American ambassador to Mexico. He introduced it to the United States where it has spread through the world under various names.
One of the most important means of keeping a poinsettia going is the watering regime. It doesn't like too much water nor does it like to be over dry. Check the compost in the pot to ensure it is damp and that the leaves are standing out strongly from the stem when you buy your specimen. Put it in a place with plenty of light but no drafts and keep an eye on the leaves. They are a good indicator of whether the plant is thirsty. As the compost dries out the leaves will change slightly in appearance. They will start to droop slightly and their green will look dull. Now is the time to water the pot. The best way, in my experience, is to stand the pot in a bowl of tepid water nearly up to the rim of the pot. Let the plant stand for a while so the compost can absorb the moisture. Stand the pot to one side and let it drain until no more water drips from the drainage holes, then return it to place of glory. If it is standing in an enclosed non-draining container, ensure that it is not standing in water. If it stands in water all the time it is like a death sentence.
If you maintain this careful watering regime, your poinsettia will give you colour for several months. Last year's poinsettia still had the coloured bracts in August this year. Unfortunately the poinsettia needs special cultivation in this country. It needs a lot of light and warmth which only the specialist can give in their greenhouses.
When I first started buying Christmas poinsettias they were very expensive. In the 60's a nice plant would cost a minimum of £8.00 for only a small specimen, now the supermarkets are selling them for a fraction of that price.
A poinsettia makes a lovely centre piece on the Christmas dinner table.