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What would Christmas be without the poinsettia? When in November, shortly before Advent, poinsettias with bright red, yellow, pink or white bracts are offered, hardly anyone can resist.
Are you one of those people who find it a pity that the decorative plant ends up in the compost after just one season? It doesn't have to be. The poinsettia is perennial. We show you how to summer the poinsettia and enjoy it for a long time.
Keep poinsettia perennial
The ancestors of today's known poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) originated in Mexico. There the plants grow into impressive shrubs. In Central Europe, the popular poinsettia, also known as the Christmas star, Advent star or poinsettia, is offered in small format. The best known is the Euphorbia pulcherrima with red leaves. These are not petals, but so-called bracts that frame the inconspicuous flowers of the poinsettia. Breeds with bracts in white, light yellow or pink have been on the market for a number of years.
Tips for buying
- Healthy plants are a prerequisite for poinsettias to be cultivated for several years. When buying, pay attention to the green leaves in addition to the colored bracts. These should be consistently dark green, intact and strong.
- The flowers should still be in bud when you buy them. The bracts surround the flower with a small distance. When the flowers are already open and the bracts are spread wide, the plant is almost gone.
- Pay attention to the soil in the flower pot. If the substrate is dried out or very wet, this is an indication of poor supply and possible damage to the plant. Poinsettias need slightly moist soil to develop well.
- Don't touch poinsettias, which are offered outdoors when it's cold outside. temperatures The houseplant does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C. Although it is not yet visible, poinsettias are damaged in the cold and soon shed their leaves. We recommend buying from a specialist shop, where the employees know and take into account the needs of poinsettias. It is better to invest a little more and avoid cheap offers.
tip: Poinsettias are sensitive to cold. For transport after purchase, wrap the plant as thickly as possible in newspaper.
Like many tropical plants, poinsettias have a special feature: they belong to the short-day plants. Only if the plants can spend a sufficient amount of time in darkness each day are they able to form flowers. The Central and South American homeland of the poinsettia offers long periods of darkness in autumn due to its proximity to the equator. These are a prerequisite for the development of the colored bracts and the small flowers.
The poinsettia blooms in winter. You don't have to overwinter the poinsettia, but to summer. Oversummer is only successful with strong, vital plants. Therefore, the right care in winter is crucial.
from November to February:
- bright, warm location
- sufficient moisture
- no waterlogging
- regular spraying with water
notice: We recommend only watering poinsettias with lukewarm water in winter. Instead of watering, weekly diving is also possible. Yellow leaves are a sign of mistakes in care. Too little or too much moisture is often the cause of yellowing.
from the end of February to September:
- from the end of February to April keep it cooler (15 to 17 degrees Celsius) and only water sparingly
- Cut back the plant to around 20 centimeters in April
- Repot in potting soil in early May or plant in a sheltered spot in the garden over the summer
- from mid-May slowly increase the watering quantity
- Absolutely avoid waterlogging
- Fertilize weekly with commercially available flower fertilizer until September
- Avoid strong midday sun at the location
Simulate short day
From September begins the decisive preparation for the formation of flowers and colored bracts in winter. In late September or early fall, place the poinsettia in a room that is bright and warm but lit only by daylight. This is important to meet the needs of the short-day plant, which requires 12 hours of darkness per day. During this time, no artificial light should enter the room from outside either. If you do not have a suitable room, you can put the plant in a closed box for 12 hours a day or put a bucket over it to create the necessary darkness.
During this time, the Euphorbia pulcherrima is not fertilized.
When flowers and the beginnings of the colored bracts appear after about eight weeks, the poinsettia has successfully survived the summer. You can now set it up in a bright location and look forward to the upcoming Advent season. Anyone who observes the requirements of the poinsettia will enjoy the beautiful plant for many years.
tip: The poinsettia is not only beautiful as a potted plant, it also cuts a fine figure in a vase or in arrangements combined with branches.
The day of the poinsettia
Did you know that December 12th is Poinsettia Day? Joel Poinsett discovered a poinsettia on a trip to Mexico. The beauty of the plant greatly impressed the US diplomat. He took some specimens with him and gave them away to friends at a botanical garden in the United States. This is considered to be the beginning of poinsettia breeding. In honor of Joel Poinsett, December 12 has been designated “Poinsetta Day” when gifts of poinsettias are given to friends and family across the United States and many other countries.