Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are among the most commonly used seasonal plants. You will often find them forming part of Christmas seasonal displays and for sale at every garden centre and supermarket from mid-November onwards.
As well as the traditional bright red varieties, new types in deep red (almost maroon), cream, pink and white are also available.
Unfortunately, poinsettias have a reputation as being short-lived and difficult to maintain, even over the relatively short period that they are in our homes or offices. But don’t dismiss getting one just yet! Here are our tips to help them look good for longer:
1. Poinsettias are not deadly toxic to people, children or animals (although the sap can be irritating).
2. Poinsettias must be unwrapped from their sleeves as soon as you get them indoors.
3. Keep them warm. Poinsettias originate from the warm climate of Mexico and central America, and don’t like sitting in cold vehicles, cold buildings or watered with cold water. It substantially reduces their life span. Poinsettias will do better in warmer, draught free locations. Never place them near cold draughts or outside doorways.
4. Red poinsettias often look poor under fluorescent lighting. Incandescent or halogen lighting makes them look their best.
5. White or pink poinsettias will look better for longer display periods (over three weeks). Red ones tend to fade in colour if in low light for over three weeks.
6. Many of today’s modern poinsettias were bred to have flexible bracts (the coloured leaves around the rather insignificant flowers) and so they tend to weep a little. This is natural and on some types the foliage has the same appearance.
7. Whilst they can consume a lot of water, poinsettias should never be allowed to stand in water.
8. If your poinsettia has wilted, try soaking the root ball with warm water as this can revive it. Revival should occur within one hour, so don’t chuck out your plants until you have tried this.
9. Poinsettia quality varies widely from grower to grower, and year to year. You will often get what you pay for.
10. … And finally, the answer is no, white poinsettias don’t turn pink then finally “ripen” to red!