Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine

Present and correct


They might not be everyone’s cup of tea but poinsettia­s are a popular festive flower, writes David Overend.

Idon’t like it but of all the plants which appear in December, the poinsettia has probably come to symbolise Christmas – it’s the indoor equivalent of the holly and it’s done its best to usurp the place of cyclamen and hyacinths as the festive flower.

It wasn’t always the case because, years ago, Euphorbia pulcherrim­a was tall and leggy and lived far away in relative obscurity; today, it arrives in this country as a compact, bright and easy-to-accommodat­e festive necessity.

But it’s not really a flowering plant – those great, red ‘blooms’ are, in fact, nothing more than glorified leaves.

But that doesn’t put off millions of people who every year buy another, either for their own home or as a present for that person who always proves difficult to please.

While looking after a poinsettia should be relatively straight forward, many people end up with plants which would be happier on the compost heap.

All these specially-produced euphorbias want is a reasonable temperatur­e (between 55-60F), plenty of light (but not direct sun), water, an occasional misting of their leaves, and perhaps a little food when they are at their peak.

Over-water and the leaves will wilt; under-water and the leaves will wilt and turn dry; dry air will also turn leaves brown and encourage red spider mites to take up residence; and leaving a plant behind the curtains on a cold night can also have a devastatin­g effect. Just remember to bring it into the room when you shut out the darkness.

They are almost as cheap as chips so there is not a lot of point in trying to keep a poinsettia from one year to the next although that doesn’t seem to stop people from trying.

But if you want to know how to do it – and you want the challenge and are prepared to spare the time – then, after the leaves have fallen, cut back the stems to 4in.

Let the compost dry until May when you should start to water.

Then repot, feed and remove some of the growth to leave five or so new stems, From the end of September, cover the plant with black polythene from evening till morning so that the plant has 14 hours of darkness each day for eight weeks.

 ?? ?? FESTIVE: For some reason, the poinsettia has come to symbolise Christmas.
FESTIVE: For some reason, the poinsettia has come to symbolise Christmas.

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