Poinsettia is not only beautiful, but it also has a colorful legend. It is believed that on a Christmas Eve, one child could not find an affordable gift for Christ. He picked a weed from the ground and he was told that anything, if given in love, will turn out to be precious. This is when the weed turned into a bright bloom, which we all know now as Poinsettia.
Belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family, it has single female flower and has no petals. Surrounding it are individual male flowers with an enclosure that looks like a cup. Its flower is white, pink, or red, which is the small one that you can find in the center. More than anything else, the most noticeable are the bright leaves. While red is the most popular color, there are also some varieties that can grow pink, peach, or cream leaves. As flowering shrubs, poinsettias can reach a height of up to ten feet. While most people plant poinsettias outdoors, you can also grow them indoors, which is ideal for those who are living in cold climate.
There are more than 100 varieties that you can find throughout the world. Many of these varieties excrete a white and milky sap, which is toxic. With this, it is important to observe caution when handling poinsettias.
Planting and Growing Conditions
Poinsettia is not the type of plant that you have to propagate from seeds as you start growing it indoors. Rather, it is one of those plants that you need to grow outdoors and when the weather is no longer attractive for its growth, you need to re-pot the plant and at such time, you have to grow it indoors. With this, one of the basic requirements is a healthy outdoor poinsettia. Alternatively, you can visit a local nursery and look for a poinsettia that you can bring indoors.
Among others, proper timing is one of the most important concerns when repotting poinsettia and when transferring it indoors. The best time to do so is when the bract or the leaves are already fading or when they are defoliating.
Choose the right container when planting poinsettia. The diameter should be at least two inches larger than the previous, which will allow it to accommodate the growth of the plant. Any material can be ideal, but make sure that there are holes for drainage. It is also best to use new containers to prevent the spread of infection. If you are using old containers, chlorine bleach will be an effective disinfectant.
You also need to pay attention to the right choice of potting media or the soil. The soil needs to be well-draining, porous, and loose. If you plan to make your own potting media, it is best to combine sterilized soil, vermiculite, and sterile compost.
Meanwhile, when it comes to light, keep it out of the direct sun. It needs bright, but filtered light, which makes it a good choice for an indoor plant. For the temperature, on the other hand, they will grow best in an environment that is between 55 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lastly, do not also forget the watering requirements of the poinsettia. Watering needs to be done sparingly. Look at the surface and press it with your finger. If the compost or soil feels dry, this is the only time that you have to water. It will also be good to mist the top part every now and then, which will encourage better growth of the foliage. See to it that water does not remain on the surface of the soil. Otherwise, this can encourage root rot.
Pests and Diseases
Most of the problems in poinsettia are foliar diseases, which include powdery mildew, phytophthora blight, and botrytis gray mold. When it comes to pests, on the other hand, some of the most common that causes infestation include fungus gnats, whiteflies, and thrips.
Care and Maintenance
Below are some of the most useful tips to ensure the tip-top shape of your poinsettia:
- If the bracts have fallen, this is an indication that it is about time to discard the plant. If you want to keep it, you can do so. At this time, decrease watering and position it in in a cool and dark area.
- You can fertilize poinsettia to improve its health, but never do it when the plant is in full bloom. Instead, fertilize it only after the holiday season or when the external conditions start to be less favorable for them. Fertilize at least once every two weeks.
- At one point, you also have to prune the plant. Ideally, do this in May. Trim the stems and cut at least four inches. This will help to encourage new and healthier growth. You should also change the pot and the soil. The appearance of new growth is a sign that you have to fertilize.
- Pinching the stem is also recommended, which is best to do in June. Pinch about an inch from the stem. Like pruning, this will also allow new growth, making the plant bushier, yet it will stay compact. If you do not pinch the plant, it will grow taller and can be an eyesore rather than an accent piece indoors.
Poinsettia is more than just a Christmas flower. It is an indoor plant that you can grow throughout the year, allowing it to provide a splash of color within the household. Luckily, succeeding in growing poinsettia does not need to be a hard task, even if you are a novice gardener.