How to care for poinsettias
The poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima is a culturally and commercially important plant species from the spurge family. It is indigenous to Mexico and Central America and is found in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. This means of course that if you live in a northern European climate and you want to keep your poinsettia in tip-top condition then you will need to give it a little extra care.

While Poinsettias are a fantastic addition to the Christmas table if you neglect them or love them too much then it can all end up can in disaster! So, to avoid any embarrassing leaf-drop by Christmas day, follow my poinsettia care tips. That way you will make the most of these beautiful plants.
How to care for poinsettias
1. A fresh poinsettia is one on which there is little or no yellow pollen showing on the flower clusters. These flower clusters are found within the small yellow green 'pods' in the centre of the bracts (modified leaves designed to mimic petals). Be aware of plants that have shed their pollen as this is an indication that they will soon drop their leaves.
2. Poinsettia sap can irritate the skin so if you have sensitive skin you may wish to wear protective gloves. Although unlikely to happen, poinsettia leaves can also cause an upset stomach if consumed in large enough quantities.

3. Avoid buying plants that have been accidentally chilled, particularly those being sold from street stalls or outside petrol garages. When poinsettias become chilled you can guarantee that they will drop their leaves.

4. Once you have chosen your plant make sure that it’s wrapped properly in the store you bought it from as this will to help prevent it from becoming chilled on your way home.

When you come to unwrap it, do so carefully as the bracts are fragile and prone to snap off. Any breaks will cause your poinsettia to releasing its milky, sticky sap. Place in a cool room, out of direct sun and away from cold drafts or extremes of temperature.

How to care for poinsettias
5. Check the soil daily for watering. It’s important to allow the soil to become reasonably dry before you water again.

Equally, the plant must never be left standing in water so drainage is also important. Too much or too little will cause the leaves and coloured bracts to wilt or even fall from the plant.

6. To maintain the health of your plant after the Christmas holiday apply a standard house-plant fertilizer once a month, although you should never feed while the plant is in bloom.

For related articles click onto the following links:
How to Care for Poinsettias

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